Christmas is supposed to be a time of rest and relaxation, but sometimes I wonder where people got that idea? Most people you meet at Christmas aren’t keeping so cool.
They’re either stressed out because they still need to get work done, because they’re in the midst of Christmas planning, or they haven’t gotten their Christmas gifts together yet. All these things come together, leaving people at the end of their tethers. This stress eventually finds an outlet in arguments and consternation on Christmas Day. And we stand there asking ourselves: has it really come to this?
Christmas holidays should be about spending time with people you want to see, and recharging your batteries to prepare for the oncoming year. Take these little helpful hints to avoid (pre-) Christmas stress.
Underline The Important Dates
Dates will always overlap. Old friends will be back home, relatives will be around to coo at newborns, and work colleagues will be clinking glasses of mulled wine. There’s just so much to do, but only a little time in which to do it. In order to see everybody, you would need to be a master scheduler. Save yourself stress by limiting everything to your really close friends and family and put off anything else until the new year.
Agree on a gift amnesty
Of course, anyone who has children has no way to get out of their Christmas present commitments. But it’s also easier to shop for the little ones: get a list, buy it online. Adults can be more demanding, and more difficult to buy for. To save on stress, I’ve made a deal with my siblings this year that we won’t give each other presents. For my parents, I’m making home-made photo albums, so that’s saving me some serious gift stress. The most important thing here, is to manage expectations in advance. Make arrangements with your nearest and dearest and make sure everybody’s on the same page.
The older you get, the more ridiculous the Christmas traveling circus becomes! Siblings suddenly throw Christmas parties, the in-laws want to be visited, and old friends throw their homes open to visitors. Trying to cram everything under one roof is rarely a good idea. Better to try to alternate visits every year. How and when you travel is also incredibly important, especially if you have children. With kids, rail travel is a lot more relaxed if you have that option. No traffic jams, freedom to move around, less weather-dependent, and less cries of “are we there yet?”. The main travel days at Christmas are the 21st and 22nd, so try to avoid these if you can.
Avoid sensitive conversation topics
Christmas dinner is not a good place to air your views about politics. With all generations around one table, you’re bound to have some serious differences of opinion and therefore serious argument-fuel. These chats are best-avoided.
Manage your expectations
Give yourself a break. Christmas and New Year’s doesn’t always have to be organised with military precision. Nothing has to be perfect. If you raise your expectations too high, you’re likely to be disappointed. I often spent New Year’s like this until I realised that the only thing I really wanted was to spend time with nice people. New Year’s Eve is now a lot more fun!
Celebrate the way you want to
Do your relatives drive you mad? Are you too stressed out to enjoy all the trekking and gifting and appeasing family? Then do your thing, and enjoy it! Have a party with friends or your partner and make it a nice, easy-going break.
The holiday season can be very beautiful if you don’t impose too many restrictions and expectations on yourself. It helps to really have a relaxing, contemplative time. Treat yourself to good conversation, rest and having nice people around you. When it’s over, you can celebrate the new year refreshed!