it's just Christmas! Is that how you begin to feel as you approach the third week in November? Each year tends to evoke different emotions in me regarding the holidays. I absolutely love Christmas, the sights, the smells, the colors, the REASON, but the busyness of it all can be so overwhelming! There are so many variables that play into the way each of us functions this time of year: the amount of family gatherings or the miles we travel, financial situations, ages of children in the house, traumatic life situations, etc. There is definitely not a "one-size-fits-all" solution to the frustrations that December can bring, but a little extra organization and lots of communication can sure help things along!
Be organized - My personality does not naturally lend itself to organization, so if it is to be done, it must be intentional and motivated. During the final weeks before Christmas, your mailbox will be hit with a gazillion ads and discounts, some of which can save lots of $, and there is nothing worse (for a bargain hunter) than to hop in the car for a quick shopping trip only to realize that you have misplaced a high value department store coupon. My solution is to keep a three-ring binder specifically for Christmas shopping and planning. Insert several pocket pages, and you have yourself a nice place for receipts, coupons, and lists, and a December calendar page marked with the dates, times, and places of all parties, plays, dinners, and gatherings. If you mix Christmas stuff in with the rest of your coupons, bills, receipts, and lists, this will not fulfill its purpose, and you’ll still be looking for that $10 off of $25 coupon that you just know you had in your hands 24 hours ago.
Communicate effectively - There is no better time than this week to take a date with your spouse and devise your priority list. The ‘most wonderful time of the year’ can quickly become the most dreaded, frustrating, stressful period in the 12 month cycle if we aren’t intentional in planning. Set aside time for the family to enjoy seasonal festivals, concerts, plays, or parties, but leave margins for down time to hang out in the living room around the Christmas tree. That is where the best memories are made.
Set reasonable limits - At a time when families are spread all over the Unites States and beyond, it is difficult to allocate time, or money, for visits to multiple locations. We are at a stage in life where it is important that we see our families, and extended families, but it won’t always be at the ’holidays’. Remember, no matter the time of year, being together is a celebration in itself. If you have to have “Christmas in July” because that’s when it works, then do it!
Make yourself relax - It is really easy to become ‘no fun at all’ when the pressure is on. We tend to think that everything has to be perfect because it only happens once a year, when in fact, no one is going to remember perfection…they will remember the smiles and the laughter, but will probably soon forget the perfect table, the perfect food, the perfectly wrapped gifts, or your perfect outfit. Pause frequently to mentally reflect on the purpose of the season, the beauty of relationships, and the brevity of life. This will put things into perspective.
I'd love to hear your ideas for reducing stress and increasing joy this season!