Tom and Brandi have four kids and a very busy life. While their kids look forward to the holidays, it’s a very stressful time for Tom and Brandi. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time to accomplish all the things that need to be done. Instead of being a joyful time of year, Tom and Brandi simply saw it as something to simply get through. They would relax after the holidays.
The holidays can be a time of joy and happiness as we thank God for all our blessings, celebrate the birth of Christ, and ring in the new year. It’s a time to spend with family and friends we might not get to see any other time of year. While this can be very enjoyable, there is a lot about the holidays that can be very stressful. So, how can we manage stress and get the most enjoyment out of the holidays?
One way to lower stress is to manage expectations. This includes the expectations of others and the expectations we place on ourselves. There are many expectations that come with the holidays. We need to visit ALL our relatives, find the best Christmas tree, purchase everything on our kids’ Christmas lists, decorate the house, mail the Christmas cards, purchase gifts for our boss and officemates, find the perfect gift for our wives, and somehow find time to appreciate the true meaning of Christmas. Oh, and all this must be done in four weeks. Phew! That’s enough to give anyone a nervous breakdown.
My advice is to slow down. Take some time to determine what is important to you. It’s not your responsibility to ensure that everyone has an enjoyable holiday. Sit down with your wife and discuss what is the minimum that would make the holidays enjoyable for you and your family. You might come to realize that not meeting all the expectations of the holidays is not such a bad thing. Your kids won’t hate you if you don’t get them every gift on their lists. Your relatives won’t disown you if they don’t receive a Christmas card this year or a tin of cookies. The exterior of your house doesn’t have to compete with the Griswalds.
The more you simplify the holidays, the more enjoyable they will be. If people do get angry with you for not meeting their expectations, don’t apologize or get upset. Simply let them know how much you love them, but it’s not your responsibility to ensure they have a happy holiday. Once you let go of all the extra responsibilities, you will finally be able to enjoy the holidays.
Tom and Brandi decided to make some big changes in the way they celebrate the holidays. They decided to cut back on their holiday travel so they could spend some relaxing time at home. They would put a limit on what they would spend for gifts and only buy for immediate family members. They pared down their Christmas decorations to represent the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas cards were only sent to family members and close friends. Tom and Brandi told many of their family and friends what they were doing and were quite surprised by the reactions. Most people responded positively and thought it was a good idea.
By limiting holiday activities only to what is most important to you, you can reduce holiday stress, celebrate the true meaning of the holidays, and relax!