Saturday, December 12, 2009

Toning Down Christmas

Christmas is my favorite holiday. Sadly, it has become bogged down and buried under the glitz, glam and glitter of commercialism, which creates unrealistic expectations and high levels of unhealthy holiday stress.

Holiday stress.

Let’s be honest. We allow ourselves to succumb to the TV commercials and newspaper and magazine advertising that bombard us with the perfect Christmas decorations, parties and gift-giving ideas that appear earlier and earlier each year. This year, Halloween was barely a memory before radio stations began playing Christmas music!

While I despise the commercialism of the holidays, especially Christmas, I’d like to share a few ideas on how I de-stress my holidays well in advance of their arrival. Lest you think I’m a woman with scads of money, a personal assistant or more time than I know what to do with here’s my disclaimer. I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, have a full time job, do yoga and have a short list of extra-curricular activities I actively enjoy.

--While shopping during 2010, think about the people you give gifts to and pick up things you think they’ll like, especially if they’re on sale, and put them away.

--Consider giving less and/or shortening your list of people you give gifts to. With today’s economic forecast giving expensive gifts, or any gifts for that matter, is not a luxury many of us can easily afford. Besides, it’s more about the thought that counts not the wrapped gift. Many of us would also welcome not having to find and give another gift.

--Attend or host less holiday parties. We’re all in the same boat trying to do it all and have it turn out perfect. If this is your goal, you may be doomed, disappointed and almost surely exhausted. Less is better.

--Don’t fall for those glitzed out homes/yards/dining room tables decorated to within an inch of their lives. They ONLY occur in magazine or TV photo layouts or at Martha Stewart’s house. Martha’s house doesn’t count as I’ve heard she employs an army of “helpers” to pull off what we mere mortal women try to do by ourselves. Sorry Martha!

--Can’t stand the frenzied holiday crowd at the local mall that only adds to your own holiday stress? Try shopping online. There was a time I would’ve pooh-poohed this idea but this year I succumbed to online holiday shopping and my shopping was finished in a few minutes. No driving from store to store to store, parking in Lot Z and discovering there’s no shuttle available. No fighting other fellow shoppers seeking the same gifts. Online shopping has the added benefit of no taxes in some states, free shipping and it’s delivered right to your door. Some sites also offer gift wrapping if you’re so inclined.

If you are a woman with scads of money and time or even if you’re not, if you work well under pressure, enjoy the hunt for the “perfect” gift and love decorating a la Martha Stewart then these ideas are not for you. With all sincerity, more power to you.

Lastly, I think we also succumb to the guilt of not being able to pull off the “perfect” Christmas for our families. We're hardwired to want to do and give our best for our families no matter what. Give up the guilt ladies it isn’t worth it. Nothing earth shattering will happen. Your families will survive and best of all they will enjoy YOU because YOU’LL be able to enjoy the holidays with your family and friends because you won’t be stressed out, cranky or tired, and isn’t this part of what Christmas is really all about?

Wishing you all a Happy, Healthy Holiday Season in whatever way you choose to celebrate..


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