The major holidays of the year come back to back. During Thanksgiving and Christmas, people spend the most time with relatives. But, as much as we love our family, much of our stress during this time can be due to them along with the actual actions we must perform.
Holiday stress can be of two types: preparation stress and familial stress. Let’s start with the preparation stress. What is the perfect holiday? If you know what it is, give me a call. Most people are still in search of it.
Begin to deal with holiday stress by telling yourself that the perfect holiday is the stuff of imagination. Norman Rockwell painted some great scenes, but they could have been from his memory or his imagination. A perfect holiday is one where everyone survives, not leaves happy.
We build up the holiday meal on Thanksgiving, the present opening on Christmas morning and even the weather. When it falls short we are depressed and stressed. So Aunt May dropped the cake or burned the rolls. It’s not the end of the world. In fact, it could be a funny story for next year.
Don’t spend too much time on the preparations. Murphy’s Law states that if something will go wrong it will happen over the holidays. Fixing that pumpkin pie from scratch only to find out that everyone wants grandma’s sweet potato pie won’t make you very happy. Trying to shove it down their throats won’t do much for their attitude either.
Enlist the aid of other family members so that all of the prep work doesn’t fall on you. Have a game plan. Decide whose house to have dinner at and rotate each holiday. Also determine if the relatives will board in a hotel or sleep at your place.
Familial stress occurs when difficult relatives come to visit or you visit them. Some people are just picky. They want everything just so or they are not satisfied. Before responding to snide comments about your food or the state of your home, take a deep breath. The person with the problem is your relative and not you.
During holiday time we take every remark personally. Any delays are a deliberate attempt by the powers that be to ruin our fun. Neither is true and stress sets in when we begin to believe that they are. If you are the kind of person who is easily offended, let another family member host the holiday dinner.
Another way to fend of stress at the holiday season is to open the floor for suggestions. When people are complaining about food, accommodations, and activities, ask them to offer alternatives to your ideas. We all make plans that we think will satisfy others, but that doesn’t always happen.
Holidays are about family time and remembering why we are truly thankful. It is hard to think about the good times when we are stressed out of our minds. Turn down the stress by letting go of preconceived notions of the perfect holiday.
Remembering first and foremost that we are in complete control of our own experience. Whether the cookies are burnt or granny is critiquing your turkey, YOU have full control over how you are going to react to the situation. You can decide you will be happy and you will love every minute of the experience, because we get to spend so little time with the people we love.
Enjoy your holiday season and remember every second of the experience!