It’s that time of year again. Big Box and grocery stores alike began putting out their Christmas merchandise before Halloween was over. And, about the time you have some spending money and the wherewithal to go shopping, all the Christmas goodies will be gone, replaced by lawn furniture and white sales.
For now, Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and the only turkey in your house is the two-legged one you’re highly irritated with for forgetting to get the furnace repaired last spring. Hmmm…I just realized that even feathered turkeys only have two legs, hence the fighting among the children over who gets a drumstick. Nevertheless, things are shaping up to be even more frantic than last year and you wonder if you’ll survive the season without going bonkers, going broke, or both.
Here are some suggestions to reduce frazzle and increase dazzle:
Employ the KISS Principle: Keep It Simple Sister (or Keep It Super Simple)
1) Who says you have to have turkey, mashed potatoes, eight side dishes, and thirteen desserts for Thanksgiving? Why not lasagna? Why not lasagna made with ground turkey? The whole idea behind Thanksgiving is to spend time with family and friends, share a simple meal, and enjoy one another’s company. Make your own tradition. One size doesn’t fit all and that’s okay.
2) Make the inside of your home inviting and cheery in ways that are meaningful to you and yours. Don’t worry about “keeping up with the Joneses.” If you don’t have the time and energy to put up lights outside your house, skip it. It doesn’t matter what the neighbors think. You can’t see the lights from the inside of your house anyway.
3) Let your kids help. So what if all the ornaments end up on one side of the Christmas tree? So what if there’s more tinsel hanging off the dog’s tail than there is on the branches? What’s the big deal if the Styrofoam snowman’s head is on backwards? Who and what is Christmas for anyway? It’s about family. It’s about kids. It’s about serving others and doing random acts of kindness. Remember that kindness should extend to your loved ones too, not just to strangers.
4) Be flexible. Probably half the Christmases we’ve celebrated have been on days other than December 25th. Whether it was due to finances or family from out-of-town being unable to make it on time, we’ve often postponed the festivities for a few days. It’s okay. You can still have a special breakfast or wonderful dinner on Christmas Day and save the gift-giving for later. Decide what Christmas means to you and your family.
Is it about festivities, family, or friends? Is it about gifts? Is about about service? Is it about honoring God? Is it to celebrate the birth of Jesus? Biblical scholars tend to agree that Jesus wasn’t born in December. The point I’m making isn’t to get theological, but to give some perspective. What does this season mean to you personally? Should it be a time of pandemonium or a time of peace? A time of pressure or a time of preparation?
5) Take time to reflect and think about the things you’re thankful for. The holidays can be a difficult time for some people. You may have lost a loved one, and this time of year brings sadness. You might have suffered trauma over Christmases past. Maybe you don’t have family nearby.
Whatever your reason is for feeling the blues, take time for yourself. Don’t shut yourself off in an attempt to shut off the pain. Work through it. Get counseling if you need it. Spend time with a close friend if you have one. Help someone else work through their own pain. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or another charity organization. You can make a difference in the lives of others while taking the focus off your own circumstances.
What’s the best thing you remember about the holidays while growing up? Was it the shopping frenzy or the time spent with family? Was it the giving or the getting? Was it the parties or the quiet evenings at home? There isn’t a right or wrong answer. Take a moment to get nostalgic and enjoy those memories. Plan to simply enjoy the season by recreating the cherished traditions of your past or by creating new ones and making them your own. Then, you can KISS stress goodbye!