Avoiding the Mess of Holiday Stress

This time of year we see lots of information about dealing with holiday stress. It’s really an American issue, in most cultures “holiday” means you don’t have to do anything, you’re off of work (for six weeks in some countries in Europe which really stresses us out when we are trying to wrap up a global business deal). Only in America can we put the word holiday and stress right next to each other and everyone thinks it’s normal. But for most Americans the holidays are when we work less and spend more money (a stressful combination).  We visit relatives that we purposefully try to avoid most of the year and we decorate our homes with stuff that is hard to put up and in some cases impossible to fully remove. We have all seen the people who leave their Christmas lights up all year and the unfortunate holiday addicts that find out spray on fake snow for your windows won’t completely come off of glass. We also have a tradition of eating as much food as we can so we can lay on the couch (or floor if your relatives beat you to the furniture) and complain about how much we have consumed. Buying gifts has gotten strange over the years. We like to say it’s the thought that counts be we have all opened a present and come to the conclusion that thinking must not be what my family does well. Also, what happens if you give someone a 20$ gift and they give you a $200 gift? The holidays are that time of year where you can actually prove to people how cheap you are. I exchanged presents one time with a friend, she open hers first, looked at it with terror, grabbed back the present she gave me and said “I’ll be back” as she walked out the door”. I must admit that what she came back with was very nice (exactly as nice as what I gave her, oddly enough), but I was stressed out and still wondered what kind of a crappy present she wanted to give me in the first place. The bottom line is: the holidays are not stressful, we are!  I think its time to reduce the gift giving and get real. Most of us buy what we want for ourselves and don’t like what other people give us. I remember my grandmother before she passed way. In her 90’s; she would open a gift and say

“Lord have mercy (she’s from Georgia) its wonderful! What is it?” She was glad to get it, polite and did not let the fact that she could not identify it; stop her from celebrating with holiday spirit. What I want this holiday season is less stress, fewer gifts and more time doing nothing but enjoying my family. Well, no more than three days of my family in a row.

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