“I think we’ve just about ruined Christmas,” said the man behind the counter. I tried not to take it personally as I pushed a huge stack of packages across the counter. “All this stuff that has nothing to do with Christmas at all. I’ve got no choice about what I do here,” he continued, “but at home I make sure that everything we do is the REAL Christmas.”
I suppose a lot of the holiday stress we feel may come from the feeling that we’re not Celebrating the “right” Christmas. I just got off the phone with “June” who’s trying to recreate Christmas by trying to create a meaningful holiday after the death of her husband. “He was the one who made Christmas,” she said. There’s no easy solution, of course, but a good place to start is by taking a look at what really matters. I remember that the first Christmas without my husband, I asked the kids what one thing would make Christmas come for them. We started with their answers.
First thing to do is take a deep breath and have a little fun. So in this spot for the weeks until Christmas, I’m going to offer a few ideas to keep the stress down. First and most important:
Don’t fall into the trap of doing what’s expected
That will just lead to people expecting more – and we can’t have that. Remember that you can’t possibly do everything you’d like to do – and you certainly can’t do everything everyone else wants you to do. As my daughter reminds me… Remember there is no such thing as the perfect Christmas.
Here I find it helps to write the three things you really must do tomorrow on a file card. Add a couple of things you’d enjoy. Set it on the table by the bed. When the morning comes, put your mind in neutral and just do them, (after your morning tea or coffee of course) and cross them off.
There’s something about having it all planned and not having to think that helps. There’s something about joyously crossing a task off that’s fun. And having everything written down, makes it possible to point to the list and deligate. When someone tells you to have a nice day, tell them you have other plans. Personally, I like to sigh deeply and say, “I’ll try, but I just can’t promise.”
On Tuesday: What to do when you see flashing red lights behind your car?
Dorothy Wilhelm writes about beating holiday stress every Tuesday and Thursday until Christmas. Questions Welcome.
Dorothy will be signing her new book Catch the Christmas Spirit and Keep It All Year Long at the Lakewood Historical Museum on Saturday, Dec 6 from 2:00 to 4:00 and at the Tacoma News Tribune lobby on Dec 10 from Noon to 3:00. The book is also available from Dorothy@itsnevertoolate.com or www.itsnevertoolate.com/ send $10 per copy to PO Box 881, DuPont, WA 98327. Phone 800-548-9264.