The Joy (and Stress) of the Holidays

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

I LOVE Christmas! In fact, I have always loved Christmas from an early age - I have fond memories of my dad putting Christmas paper on the windows of our garage to make ‘Santa’s Workshop’, as well as my first Christmas as a mom. The holidays holds a magical wonder for me, but they also admittedly stress me out!

As a busy mom, there are just too many things on my ‘To-Do List’ and not enough time to complete them. This fact coupled with my perfectionist tendencies do not always equate to a calm, joyful atmosphere. I sometimes feel like a cruise ship director squeezing too many ‘fun’ activities into each day and feeling the pressure to keep my family happy and spirited during this supposedly joyful time of year.

I received an email from Carrie Contey ( with a list of questions to ponder during this busy season. I selected the four below to share with you because they really made me stop and think about what I was trying to achieve this year.

1. How do you want to feel this holiday season?

     o Do you want to feel connected, joyful, celebratory, calm, thankful……..

     o What would define ‘success’ for you?

2. What are the things you want to do and want to say ‘yes’ to?

     o What things are you most excited about?

     o What holds the most meaning for you?

3. What are the things you feel like you have to do?

     o There are some holiday traditions that you do need to partake in whether you want to or not (think spouse's Christmas party), because it is important to those you love. That’s OK - just realize not everything falls into this category. (see item #4)

4. What are you ambivalent about or what do you want to say "no” to?

     o Look inward and get in alignment with what you are feeling about various activities.

     o If you aren’t excited or are just doing something ‘because that’s what you always do’ – it is OK to say no!

     o One of the best parts about being an adult is you get to choose!

When you really dig deep and answer these questions honestly and completely, you might be surprised at the answers. I had a few longstanding traditions that I realized I don’t enjoy and was going through the motions of because that is simply ‘what we always did’.  I also realized that my mind held a constant running list of what I 'needed' in order to have a good Christmas - decorations and lights? Check. Gingerbread homes?  Check. Teachers gifts? Check.  And the list goes on and on.

In reality, I found that only about half the things on my list are really meaningful to my family and myself. After some thought, I celebrated the fact that my stressful To-Do list was now cut in half! And THAT is what this post is truly about – what can you do to reduce the clutter and stress around the holidays?  What can you also do to increase the joy?

From my family to yours – Happy Holidays!

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