How to Have a Relaxed Holiday (Hopefully!)

I admit it- I have a moment of panic each holiday season, usually about mid-November. This year I got an early start and had my panic attack the day after Halloween. Don't worry, I'm okay! But I was briefly overwhelmed at all that "has to be done" in the next six or seven weeks.   In addition to the holidays, my exam week ends one week before Christmas Day. So besides shopping and out of town visits with relatives, a brief vacation and all of the other expectations of the season, I have to grade papers and post final evaluations during the most hectic week of the holidays. But I know, deep down inside, that it will all get done and it will all be done well and I will have a Merry Christmas (more importantly, so will my family).  I just seem to have to stress about it a little bit first.

So, I thought I might help you to avoid Holiday Panic and enjoy this season as it should be enjoyed by sharing what I try to remember to do beginning in early November and continuing through the first week of January.  I know I don't have all the answers, but maybe, just maybe, there is some help for the Holiday crazies here below: 

Remember the reason for the season.  Whether you are Christian, Jewish, Muslim or none of the above, remember that the point to this season is peace and love.  It is a time for family (by blood or by choice!) and friends. All else is secondary

Find some time to be alone and have some "me" time.  I know- if you have young children or a retail (or education) job it doesn't seem like you have time to breathe right now. I remember laughing when someone suggested the same for me when my girls were little. But there is time, even if it is just five minutes here or fifteen minutes there to have a cup of coffee, read a chapter of a good book, chat with a friend or just take a deep breath. Remember, if you don't take care of you, you can't take care of anyone else. 

One of my favorite Christmas mugs with a reminder to be jolly! 

Just say "No".  This is hard for me, but I am learning. If I do not have time to do something, I am learning to give my regrets.  There is no point to going to a party or baking another two dozen cookies for the garden club if you are going to go crazy doing it (and make everyone around you miserable!).  See also the last line of the paragraph about "me time".

(Just Practicing!)

Keep the traditions.  Go see Santa. Bake cookies with the kids. Go to church. Watch Christmas specials on broadcast T.V. or D.V.D. or On Demand.  Do whatever your friends and family enjoy doing each year.  And give yourself permission to enjoy it without worrying about what else has to be done.  

Some of the Christmas DVDs we enjoy.

Don't keep the traditions. I know this is in direct contradiction of number five, but hear me out. Have an annual conversation with your spouse and/or kids and find out what really means the most to them.  Why drive yourself crazy (and everyone else) making fourteen types of Christmas cookies or going to see "Nutcracker Suite" for the fourteenth annual time if no one really cares about it anymore? 

Another family tradition we will probably keep- touring the Christmas lights in the neighborhood. 

Remember, you are not Martha Stewart! (Nor do you have her staff!) Your Christmas cards do not have to be hand-made and addressed in calligraphy. It is okay to buy your pumpkin pie, Christmas cookies, ham, whatever, from the grocery store or bakery if you want/need to! Your gifts do not have to be wrapped in an artful manner. I hereby give you permission to buy your cards at the store and delegate responsibility for wrapping your presents to that booth in the mall that supports the high school band boosters.  Your kids/spouse can vacuum or do the laundry- it may not be as thorough as what you would do but that is okay! If there are crafts and projects that you want to do, consider postponing them until after the holidays.  Get your supplies when they are on sale after Christmas and do the projects during those dreary winter months when you need some diversion from the awful weather. They will then be special and new for next year! 

My Holiday address book and my store bought Christmas Cards! 
Make lists right now. Who are you shopping for? What are you planning to give them? What are their sizes and color preferences?  Who will you be sending cards to? Has their address changed? What are you planning to make for Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner? Make your shopping lists and start gathering coupons to take advantage of the sales that will be occurring over the next few weeks. Keep the lists in a small notebook in your purse or briefcase. Your sanity and budget will thank you! 

My well worn "To Do" List notebook that I keep in my purse.  The Post-It Note tabs are there to help me find the lists I need now. 

Along with your list keep your calendar up to date.  As soon as you find out about a party, holiday event, appointment, etc, put it on your calendar. Write down your kids' and spouse's event/obligations as well. Keep the calendar with you at all times. 

Get a few extra gift cards and photo frames when you are shopping.  They are perfect last minute gifts- gifts for people you do not know very well, teens and people you may not have remembered to remember. There are cute and inexpensive little boxes and bags at the stores to wrap them in as well.  Having a little security like this in your closet can help with holiday stress too. 
Soak it in.  This will not last forever.  The season will pass and you will be sitting at home in the middle of February wondering what happened to Christmas.  This point in time will not come again. Your children will never be this age again (neither will  you for that matter!). Friends and family will move away or pass. Enjoy this moment in time for what it is- a holiday that is intended to convey joy, peace and love!

So take a minute, take a deep breath and enjoy the season!

Thanks for stopping by today!  



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