On Steering Clear of Holiday Stress.

The holidays are here.

Is that insane or what? It's like every year they sneak up on us and yell 'BOO!' from around the corner.  We jump back every time, shocked that somehow they are here again.

For many, holidays are synonymous with stress.  The sad reality is that we too often try to please too many people with too many events and too many parties and too many gifts and all the things that in and of themselves are great but all piled on at once are poison.  And not just poison, but poison that your family gets to drink (you know, because they live with you and all).

Can I make a suggestion?  Let's not this year.  Let's just not.

Let's get back to making the main things the main things.  Start with your family.  Not ALL the family but the ones you birthed and married.  Start there.  Have a family meeting and talk about everyone's favorite parts of the holidays.  Make a list {check it twice if need be} of each persons top favorite things to do between November 1st and January 1st.

That list is your new set of priorities.  Ditch the rest.  Drop the "have to"s and the forced things. 

Feel free to throw out traditions for tradition sake.  Make your own traditions.  Joy (in tradition) is not universal.  Carefully consider why you do the things you do? Does it make YOUR people happy or THE people happy?  Often it's not both.   

You may learn that the things you thought were super important are things that no one cares about.  Maybe you have felt like gingerbread making is a sacrifice of your sanity because your kids love it, when really, they just want the candy.

Maybe no one likes the cookie exchange.  Maybe the giant family gift exchange is stressing your husband out.  Maybe no one likes fruitcake.  You won't know these things unless you talk about them (except no one likes fruitcake).

When Doug and I got married we made a decision for our family, Christmas will always be in our home for us, anyone is welcome but our kids will always wake up in their beds for Christmas morning.  We like to be home and cozy and together in our house.  We know that is what makes us all calm and bright, so that is what we do. 

We make the holidays about the four of us and as a result they are usually stress free, laid back and fun.  We keep our home open and our sanity intact.

It's not easy.  Inevitably we have to say no thank you to things or invitations but generally people are graceful and understanding.

Give people a chance to be graceful and understanding to your "no".

Before things get too underway take a minute and clean your plate.  Make your list of priorities with your family and go about taking care of that list.

When it comes down to it play a little game of "would you rather?"...

Would you rather, give your kids (and your spouse) a stressed out, over scheduled and under slept version of yourself, complete with a stressed out and resentful spouse OR would you rather see to it that YOUR people are getting their love tanks filled on the things that bring them actual joy during the next couple of months?

You'll make memories either way, you get to choose the kind.

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