Dealing With Holiday Stress

8:43 PM

Each year the holidays come. I say "the holidays," but really I mean "Christmas," because let's be honest: most people celebrate Christmas in some form. It's now mid-December, which means my Facebook feed is full of people arguing about:

1) How many gifts to get each child
2) How much to spend on each child
3) How it's mean to buy gifts for your children because some families are poor
4) What recipes to cook for Christmas
5) Whether or not it's okay to say "X-Mas"
6) Advent and what it really means
7) How you should be nice to people even if they aren't Christian because Christmas is for everyone

Now, my husband and I stopped celebrating "Christmas" awhile ago. I grew up in a conservative Christian household and I have no beefs with celebrating the birth of Christ. None. What I do have a problem with is that "the holiday season" tends to be a really great time for people to be general jerkfaces to one another without cause. Whether it's fighting on Facebook or just being pushy and rude at the store, Christmastime, to me, is one of the worst times of the year.

It's also one of the most stressful.

But there are ways you can deal with the stress that often accompanies Christmas.

First off, learn to say "no." No, you do not have to participate in every secret Santa gift exchange. If you're a minimalist, this idea is horrifying, anyway. No one wants a bunch of cheap, stupid gifts sitting around their house. No one wants someone else to buy them random books they'll never read or ugly sweaters that will sit in a box. If you don't want to spend money on people you don't like, then don't. Say no. You can be honest or you can be polite in your refusal. You do not have to get political. Remember that you also don't need to offer people a reason you aren't doing something. You don't know anyone an explanation. "I won't be able to make it" or "We already have plans" are fine. "It's not in the budget this year" is also fine.

Next, remember that your lifestyle is between you and your spouse. You answer to your husband or wife and the rest of the world doesn't matter. If you don't want to go to 30 holiday parties, then don't go to 30 holiday parties. If you want to spend $1,000 on Christmas gifts, then spend it. If you want to go on vacation at Christmastime because you both have breaks from work and you can afford it, then do it. You do not have to participate in conventional Christmas activities. You do not have to buy a tree. You do not have to go to Christmas Eve church. Choosing not to celebrate Christmas the way other people want you to does not mean you don't love Jesus.

If you do decide to celebrate Christmas, prepare as much as possible ahead of time. If you plan to cook, decide on your menu now. Stock up on your nonperishables so you'll have them when it's time for your party. Don't wait until the last minute and then scramble around from store to store trying to find the food you need. If you want to order pies from a restaurant, get your order in now. Today. Don't wait until five days before. They'll be sold out. Buy your gifts early and put them away so you won't be worried about shopping at the last second.

Finally, don't celebrate with people you can't stand. I'm constantly reading articles on "how to deal with relatives you hate" or "how to avoid talking about politics at Christmas." Really? Why would you celebrate with people you hate? You know there are plenty of other days in the year you can see your Grandma, right? You don't have to go visit at Christmastime when there are going to be people you hate hanging around. If Christmas is that big of a burden, just skip it. Skip the drama, skip the stress, and do something different. Visit your grandmother another day. I promise: she'll be okay.

How do you avoid stress during the holiday season? Do you celebrate Christmas?

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