We are a week away from Christmas Day and everywhere you go there are a mixture of feelings among the people which you encounter, joy and stress. This time of year can be one of the most joyful times of the year, with gatherings with family, presents, decorations, more special events than one can attend and opportunities for giving and sharing of one’s resources. This time of year can also be one of the most stressful times of the years, with gatherings with family, presents, decorations, etc. . . . Well I think that you get the picture.
There are more suicides during the Christmas session than at any other time of the year. There are also more disappointments, more pressure to overspend and overcommit than at any other time. Christmas can be a really terrible time if we lose perspective or if we place too much pressure upon ourselves. There are certainly more expectations this time of year, which press the buttons of those of us who are people-pleasers and perfectionists or who have not quite developed the ability to say no and exercise good, healthy boundaries.
Please remember that there are very few people who are actually living those idyllic lives that we are seeing portrayed in the movies or in the Lexus commercials. Christmas is stressful, some of it is positive stress, such as, trying to attend all of the wonderful opportunities available this time of year or buy all of those gifts which you want to give to your friends and family. Some of the stress, however, is deadly, such as overspending and going into debt in order to buy those gifts, time with toxic family members, disappointment due to unrealistic expectations and the press to create the “perfect Christmas”.
I would like to encourage you to spend more time during the next week doing the things that you want to do with the people which you want to be with. Enjoy time with those who feed your soul doing things that you love. There are many opportunities to find ways to give back to those who are less fortunate than you. There are also simple ways to give and to show love which do not “break the bank”. I have known for quite some time that experiences are worth more than things and I try to employ this philosophy into the Christmas season. Enjoy a meal or a walk with the one you love rather than exchanging gifts. Some people, me included, would rather have a nice meal or take a walk on a sunny day with the people which I care about than to receive presents. Handmade or personal gifts are also a good way to bless someone without spending a fortune.
For those who have friends and family who spending time with causes damage to you, consider taking a break this year from them, if possible. Sometimes those visits would be better placed after the holidays when they can be less volatile. If there is no way to avoid spending time with Aunt Jinny who always makes you feel like you need a bath after your time with her due to negativity, then limit the time you spend alone with her. Intentionally steer conversation away from matters which might cause discussions to become heated or only visit with her in the presence of someone else as people tend to be nicer in the presence of others.
Don’t spend the holidays alone, unless you will enjoy the alone time more than being with others. If your family is not an option, seek out activities around other people or maybe reach out to that person whom you know might otherwise also be alone. Start a new tradition. If you always spend Christmas Eve with family but you know that doing so will be harmful to you, find a more helpful way to spend the time. Go to the mall for last minute deals or just to people-watch, or find a place that is serving the poor or homeless where you can volunteer. Check out some of the attractions which are open Christmas Eve, as they are often less crowded and more enjoyable. Maybe visit a hospital or a retirement center. You are not alone; there are many people who find time with family is the last place that they want to be.
Find the joy! It is there but sometimes you have to look for it. Find a way to give to others. Find the simple pleasures of the season. Let go of expectations. Only you can make this a holiday of peace and joy. Prioritize so that you spend time and money in the ways that are true to your values and needs. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! May you find the Peace and Joy of the season!