As the chill of winter excites the nose and freezes the toes, the Yuletide season offers rich opportunities to share favorite recipes and acts of kindness. Yet, depression and stress attest to the fact that it can be quite a challenge to have so much fun!
Identify Seasonal Stress
Stress reactions to the season can be alleviated greatly by identifying some of your ghosts of Christmas past and present. This might help in decorating your very own ghost of Christmas future so it can become an angel of sweet memories to be with the season for years.
Depression can be close by when a person needs to deal with some grief. This is a good time of year to allow yourself whatever feelings you may experience. Self-acceptance can aid in letting bad feelings go.
Plan a Christmas Survival Strategy
Planning is both hope and faith personified, and isn’t that what Christmas is about? Light a candle. Stoke the fire. Put your feet up and write down a plan for a warm and seasonal brew of activities you really want to do as well as plenty of quieter times with no guilt for the choices made. Maybe it is time to start new and calmer approaches to your Christmas traditions.
Organize Holiday Expectations
One ghost to conquer is our expectations, which can doom any festive occasion. Expect life in December to include both positive and negative, as does life in other months. Flat tires and scraped knees happen. Try adding a festive bandaid.
Relaxing our expectations of perfection can allow us to see the shine of life’s tinsel in both the struggles and the huggles. (Listen carefully to Charlie Brown. He knows a lot about Murphy’s Law, and life!)
Opt out of Competitiveness
Another ghost of Christmas past to confront is materialism and the need to buy and do what everyone else does. There are no rules about gifts. It is not necessary or even helpful to go one up on last year’s gifts. Be courageous. Stand up and show (don’t just tell) family and friends that it really is the thought that counts.
Stay within a Christmas Budget
It is often the less expensive but well thought-out gifts that people treasure the most. Consider gathering family members to bake up goodies as gifts. Memories of such shared times often last for years in the minds of your family members. Try sitting down and writing a personal note to someone expressing feelings you’ve never mentioned but would want to say at some time in your life.
Look honestly at your finances. A modest gift certificate with a promise to shop together after Christmas can work for some people on your list. Take a thermos of spiced tea or hot chocolate to a senior and stay to enjoy the shared occasion.
As you make your gift list, don’t limit yourself to the stores. Families can go to a busy relative or friend’s house and trim their front yard for the winter, or perform a similar task. Such times of family closeness are often cherished by the children for years. Some families teach their children the lessons of giving by giving blood or serving holiday food. The choices are endless, and are not always found at the mall.
Schedule Relaxing Moments
Serve up some calm thoughts over a cup of your favorite coffee or tea. Reflect on events of past Christmases which had personal meaning. Let go of bad experiences and say no to stressors. Make positive choices and let them decorate your heart. Let those moments of memory instruct you while setting priorities. Then design a schedule allowing for both spaces and spontaneity. Some of these calm moments of togetherness can yield gains in learning during the holidays.
Let Christmas be about joy. Remember neither Baby Jesus nor Santa should be asked to do it all. Happiness is your job. Don’t look for happiness as a result. Choose it as a method.
Put happiness on the top of your Christmas list. Bake up a batch for yourself and plenty to share. Your family and friends will find it refreshing. It might even remind them that Christmas spirit is about a birth of an idea, of a hope. This year give birth to joy. The world needs all it can get.