bright night

Whether We Enjoy the Holiday or Endure It, It’s Our Choice

Regardless of whether you are looking forward to celebrating Christmas and Kwanzaa or just finishing the celebration of Chanukah, the holiday season is upon us.   Many of us enjoy this time while others endure it, and there is no argument that the season is often associated with joy, celebration, and connection, but for many, it can also bring a sense of overwhelm and stress.

Decorating, and making lists (I am the Queen of list making) of gifts, menus, guests, travel plans and events can be daunting.  It is the busiest time of the year and, for many of us, the most sacred.

We each have our own activities during the holiday that cause us stress and joy often together.  I love Christmas music and will cheerfully spend hours sitting on the freeway in stopped traffic alone, singing carols at the top of my lungs.  On the other hand, the Christmas menu is one of the most challenging processes for me.  My family holds dear to the Thanksgiving traditional foods of our childhood, but Christmas brings an opportunity for several back-to-back meals that can both inspire creativity and be overwhelming.   We have tried very hard over the years to move some of the holiday traditional foods from the 60’s, namely green jello salad, off the list, replacing it with healthier options. This has proven to be topical however with some family members.

A family enjoying the Holidays

Shifting intentional strategies can be very effective

To shift from merely enduring to genuinely enjoying this special time of year, a few intentional strategies can be incredibly effective.

Set Realistic Expectations: One of the biggest holiday stressors is the pressure to create a perfect experience. Acknowledge that perfection is unattainable and unnecessary. Embrace the beauty of imperfection and the unique quirks of your holiday celebrations.

Plan Ahead But Stay Flexible: Planning is key to reducing stress. Whether shopping, cooking, or attending events, a well-thought-out plan can keep things manageable. However, remain flexible as plans can change, and being adaptable will reduce frustration.

Delegate and Share Responsibilities: The holiday season should be a collective effort. Share tasks among family members or friends, from decorating to cooking. Delegation lessens your load and allows others to feel involved and valued.


Put yourself on the top of the list

Prioritize Self-Care: Amidst the hustle and bustle, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Whether it’s a quiet walk, a relaxing bath, or just some downtime with a book, ensure you carve out moments for self-care.

Focus on Experiences, Not Things: Shift the focus from material gifts to experiences. Shared experiences, whether it’s a family game night, a movie marathon, or a nature hike, often create more lasting memories than physical gifts. 

Practice Gratitude:  Regularly take a moment to reflect on what you’re grateful for. Gratitude shifts your focus from what’s lacking to the abundance that’s already present in your life, fostering a sense of contentment and joy. 

Embrace Traditions, Old and New:  Traditions anchor us to our past and create a sense of continuity. However, don’t be afraid to evolve or create new traditions that better suit your current lifestyle or family dynamics.  Some of the great options are storytelling with both the older family members as well as the younger ones.  What a great way to have deeper connections. 

Remember the Spirit of the Season:  Finally, reconnect with the true essence of the holiday season—be it gratitude, giving, family, or celebration. Keeping the spirit of the season at the forefront can help guide your actions and decisions, making the holidays more meaningful.  We are making memories for all of us.

By incorporating these strategies, the holiday season can transform from a time of stress to a period of joy and rejuvenation, filled with meaningful moments and cherished memories.

Happy holidays.

Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we’re here for something else besides ourselves. As long as we know in our hearts what Christmas ought to be, Christmas is.
~ Eric Sevareid ~