Two huge sources of stress during the holidays have to do with the constraints on our time and finances.
We get so caught up in what is expected of us in this age of materialism that we barely have time to enjoy the things that really matter: our family, our friends, and the meaning of Christmas.
Instead of taking time to cozy up by the fireplace and read stories to the kids, show them how to bake simple cookies, listen to Christmas music, or relax in fuzzy slippers, we spend December circling parking lots, braving icy winds, squeezing around people, and standing in endless lines with aching feet. We race by Santa in the mall with barely a hello, don’t see the decorations, try not to snarl when someone gets in our way, and rush home to spend endless hours wrapping.
We’re so tired, grumpy, and in debt that we’re grateful when the holidays are over.
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I love Christmas, and I think it’s a time to be cherished. It’s a time for reflection. It’s a holiday for love, togetherness, and giving of yourself. The message of Christmas is hope, peace, and making the world better. We may not achieve world peace, but we can donate warm clothes to the poor or drop something in the food bank. We can give ourselves the gift of relaxation. We can give our family the gift of our presence.
The best Christmases I remember are when I read Heidi (Johanna Spyri) to my kids, when we watched Christmas specials surrounded by the glow of coloured lights, when the kids learned to bake cookies and turkey, when my daughter perfected her holiday hot chocolate recipe, when my mother sent knit hats and sweaters and Czech cookies in the mail, and long ago, when our Christmases consisted of the smell of pine branches, European crystal, dogs and cats in our laps, and three generations under one roof. In recent years, we’ve had four generations, which is very special, indeed.
Now that our extended family is growing, it’s becoming increasingly important to deal with the gift issue, or we will all go bankrupt. My kids have suggested drawing one name out of a hat or giving official gifts only to the children. My sister has made the most beautiful gifts. My mother would knit and bake. These were not only treasures for us who had no time, but lasting keepsakes (the knits, not the cookies!). Some of my friends continue to make personalized paper cards.
This article by Elizabeth Scott, MS, posted in VeryWell offers some thoughtful and inexpensive gift ideas. Note that the article is tagged under stress management!