6 Ways to Avoid the Christmas Insanity
By Michelle Alfaro
Christmas is coming. The kids can smell it in the air, and some of us can already see it on the ground. For some of us, the advent of the Christmas season makes us dreamy-eyed and nostalgic about past years where everything was perfect. For others, the stress of it all makes us slightly nauseous. For others (I’m raising my hand here!) it’s a little bit of both. Here are just a few ideas to help you stay away from the ulcer-inducing worry, and enjoy a more dreamy-eyed experience for the next six weeks or so.
Do you already know that you’re going to be shuffling from one family party to the next? Are you expected to bring children, food, games, or presents along with you? Force your relatives to give you the information you need (time, place, assigned food dish) as soon as possible, and then get that calendar updated, stat! This will give you time to plan out the perfect gift, get yourself to the store (or click the “order” button), and get things squared away. Once the “required” things are taken care of, take a breather!
Keep to Your Budget
Yes, electronic devices are nice. But, so is having enough money to pay your electricity bill. Before the lure of Black Friday, or whenever you plan to get those gifts on your list, sit down and plan out a budget. One of the biggest stressors around the holidays is wondering how you’re going to pay off the credit card bill that will inevitably show up in January. Be realistic (if you know you’re going to spend more than $20 on your sister, peg the budget a bit higher, but don’t be ridiculous). Agree with your significant other about limits, then watch your bank account closely. Keep each other accountable for every dollar!
Know Your Limits
The longer you live in one place, the most neighbor gifts are expected of you. Did you know that? It’s an unwritten law of not living 20 miles away from the next human. One year, I decided I was going to make homemade jam and fresh rolls for all of my 5 million neighbors, and boy was this girl STRESSED OUT! The holidays were terrible in my home that year. The next year, I went with a simple candy bag, and EVERYONE was happy. Set your personal limits and don’t be fooled by the gajillion Pinterest suggestions. If you know making caramel will make you weep, don’t do it!
Do Something for You
It’s the holidays, and we should be in a spirit of giving, right? Yes, and I’ll get to that in a moment, but remember it’s the holidays for ALL OF US, including you. So, take a moment to pamper yourself. Have a favorite holiday movie? Put the kids to bed early and enjoy! Are you missing that cup of hot cocoa you know you probably shouldn’t have? Relax and throw in a couple of marshmallows for good measure. Holidays are meant to be times of relaxation and enjoyment. Only you can be sure you aren’t missing out.
Do Something for Someone Else
Besides my concluding point, this is probably the most important suggestion in the whole list. We can’t truly appreciate all that we DO have, unless we see (or remember) what we don’t. Go out and make the world a better place, the holiday spirit is sure to find its way into your heart if you do. Find a homeless shelter and scoop some potatoes for an hour. Contribute to Toys for Tots, or go read to a group of underprivileged kids. There are countless ways to help others this holiday season. Go out and be a part of it. Suddenly, that 90” TV won’t seem quite so important.
Remember What It’s All About
It’s so easy to get wrapped up (literally) in the presents, and Santa, and making everything perfect during Christmas. My suggestion is to take a moment every day during this holiday season to remember the Babe of Bethlehem. Even if you aren’t particularly religious, there is something powerful in the image of the new star as a guide. Remember what it meant to the Wise Men, and why they travelled so far. It’s a good time to unpack that story just as you unpack the Christmas tree and stockings. I promise that if you do, the fact that the gravy is lumpy and the rolls are burned won’t matter at all.
Allow your focus to land on what really counts, and I promise, this Christmas season will be one you fantasize about in later years. Refuse the insanity, and all your memories of December 2018 will have a rosy cast to them. May there be Peace on Earth, and perhaps more importantly, Peace in your Heart. Happy Holidays!