I love the holiday season. I’m the person who starts putting out Christmas decorations the next day of Halloween. There is a house in our neighborhood that leaves Christmas lights all year round and it never fails to bring a smile to my face. But as much as I love the weather, I inevitably run out of stress. A freak related to Christmas is the tradition of making cookies for Santa in my house. There are some things I have learned over the years that help reduce the stress of vacation.
The gift is considered a wonderful expression of friendship, community, love or appreciation. And yet they can cause terrible anxiety. It can be difficult to find the right gift and if you have too many people in your life, it can be expensive. Some good remedies I have learned are:
Do not put too much effort into finding the “perfect” gift. Especially for low priority gifts such as those you receive for a coworker, mailman, or your child’s teacher. This is why gift cards exist. Or you can always go with a consumable that most people like. Focus your attention on more important relationships, where you can choose something more unique and meaningful.
If you do not want to break the bank, homemade gifts are almost always accepted and appreciated. I have received the highest compliment after delivering a package of homemade holiday treats. This is a particularly good gift because you can spend Sundays making huge batches of treats. Then buy some cheap Tupperware or cookie tins, prepare them with parchment inside and ribbon outside and you can put together gifts for most people on your list.
Receiving a gift can also be a concern. I feel uncomfortable opening gifts in front of everyone. I feel pressured to react to the person they want and I always feel bad when someone spends their time and money on me. I like to remember that gift-giving people do this because it makes them happy to show their appreciation for other people. So I make sure to open the gift, show it to the room if other people are around, and give that person a sincere thank you. If it is particularly special, I will run with a note. But usually, if both people exchange gifts, I don’t think thank you needs notes.
Learn to say no
You wouldn’t have to go to your second cousin’s company Christmas party because he asked. You don’t have to choreograph your niece’s preschool vacation spot. Be realistic about your holiday obligations and do not commit to doing more than you are doing.
Let’s move on to the idea of perfect holiday moments. Life is not a hallmark film. Daniel and I spent about 10 minutes trying to take a picture with James on Thanksgiving, where we were all looking in the general direction of the camera. At some point, I started to get frustrated, but then remembered how silly it was to try to get 14 months old to pose for a picture. I look at the terrible pictures now and it is still a pleasant memory. Try not to stick to expectations about how everything should go. Just enjoy the time you love. Try your best to have a happy holiday.