A Gallup report from the week of December 4-11 reveals that eight in ten of us are stressed, and cites that the biggest sources of stress are work and children.
Then come the holidays, when stress seems to go into hyper-drive. But Christmas is not an “extra” though or something we need to “get through.” Holidays are important for our families. They ensure a sense of belonging and are important markers for the rhythm of our lives.
Which means that pressure we put on ourselves for a perfect Christmas can make things seem all the more challenging. It is to be the season of hope, joy, love, peace… and yet we sometimes find it hopeless, joyless, loveless and anything but peaceful. We long for a different pace, a different focus, more harmonious family time, less commercialization and “stuff.”
I’ll be blogging about simple traditions, simple holidays, and a simpler day-to-day life in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, here are a few ideas on how we can embrace a more stress free, and thoughtful holiday celebration right now, as there are never enough reasons in life to celebrate.
- Take a moment each morning for gratitude. Write the things you are grateful for each morning and celebrate the gift that it is. Maybe it is a cup of coffee at sunrise. Maybe it is that the kids all got out the door on time. Journaling every day – even just a few words – can help us focus on joyful things.
- Be thoughtful about your traditions. What is important, and what can you skip this year? Through the years I have at times skipped Christmas Cards (sending them later, or not sending them at all), cookie baking, and other traditions. And still the sun come up on Christmas Day. What can you skip this year, to ensure that you have the family time you crave?
- Remember what you loved about Christmas as a child, and make sure you prioritize those activities. For me, it’s Christmas music. Listening to it each day, and scheduling a few Christmas concepts will help me appreciate the joy of the season better than anything.
- Honor those who are missing from the celebration by ensuring that you celebrate as if they were there.
- Do something to remember those in need.
- Most of all, remember that Christmas began with a gift – the Christ child born in Bethlehem to be a blessing for all mankind.
Generally, we have two choices when it comes to the celebration of Christmas. We can change our habits or we can change our minds. Simply breathe, relax, and embrace the business and chaos. There is no better example of someone change their mind about Christmas than Ebenezer Scrooge. Once Scrooges heart and mind are changed by his fantastic Christmas Eve, he proclaims, “I will honor Christmas in my heart and keep it all year through.”