(This column first ran Dec. 16, 2014.)
I’ve read several articles, essays and advice columns lately about how to reduce our stress levels during the holidays. Why do we have to hear this advice from others? Why don’t we recognize for ourselves that sometimes, enough is enough?
We set ourselves up for added stress with hectic scheduling of dinners, gifts, parties, visits and travel. We go and do and shop and decorate and spend and party and visit and cook and – we wear ourselves out.
The typical Christmas dinner for eight will take approximately 48 hours to prepare. (I just made up this statistic. It’s what I remember from my childhood. Mom was in the kitchen for hours on end.) Then, the meal will be consumed in approximately 23 minutes. (Again, from my childhood.)
We buy gifts for others because we feel obligated to give them something. We all know about the last-minute ugly tie, the “As Seen on TV” gadget, the ill-fitting sweater that are standard obligatory gifts. Why do we continue to do this?
These days, I’m a little more pragmatic. Why all the fuss and bother? It’s not just the dinner and the gifts, but the shopping and wrapping and decorating and the traveling and so on and so forth.
Can this most blessed day of the year be simplified?
I think so.
This year, I’m hoping for – and wishing for my friends, family and readers – a Merry Christmas, more or less.
I wish for more face time and less screen time. I don’t mean the FaceTime app. Turn off the electronics, hide the cell phones, quit playing Candy Crush. Pretend the Internet is out.
Have conversations with your loved ones of all ages, play games, read. Walk together on the beach or up the mountain or through the field or around the block. Hold hands.
I wish for more of the family, and less of the crowds. “Family” includes dear friends, and I’d much prefer to be at home, surrounded by them, than to be wandering aimlessly at a huge mall surrounded by strangers.
I wish for more relaxation and less stress. Dinner might be late at our house, because we might decide to watch a movie huddled on the sofa rather than steam the broccoli and bake a pie.
I wish for more giving and less receiving. I do appreciate thoughtful gifts from family and friends, but I’d prefer that they don’t go overboard. Instead, let’s give more to those in need.
I wish for more presence, and less (fewer) presents. See above.
I wish for more fruit and less fruitcake. Big dinners can be incredibly unhealthy for us. Why must we gorge ourselves on one day just because it’s tradition? Let’s lighten up, America! Eating healthfully doesn’t have to be boring. Be creative!
I wish for more faith and less worry. We all have circumstances that cause anxiety, but for at least one day, we can put our fears aside. Maybe we could focus on whatever faith we hold and believe that things will work out. In most cases, they will.
However you chose to celebrate, I wish for you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday season, more or less.