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A Holiday Gift to Yourself: Just Say No!

A Google search on "holiday stress" yielded, my computer tells me, about 658,000 results! I can't say I've checked them all, but I'm not surprised at the subject's popularity. I have a sneaking suspicion that many adults -- especially parents -- have about as much enthusiasm for Christmas as they do for root canal. For in addition to all the usual demands of work, home and childrearing, December brings an onslaught of extra obligations: Buy those gifts! Get that tree! Address those cards! Bake for those parties! Decorate!

Peace and joy? Not so much.

Google suggests resources: The Mayo Clinic's "Stress, Depression and the Holidays: 12 Tips for Coping." WebMD's "Beating Holiday Stress." About.com: Depression's "Holiday Stress Survival Kit." MedicineNet's "Learn How to Cope With Holiday Depression and Stress." Feel free to read them, but for right now I'll suggest a very basic remedy to holiday stress.

Just Say No!

Say no to shopping for more than you enjoy and can afford. Say no to attending or baking for holiday events when they start seeming like chores instead of fun. Say no to making your house a showplace if you're resenting the time spent doing it. Say no to sending cards to everyone you've ever known, including people whose only contact with you for the past ten years has been Christmas cards!

Say no to anything that takes away your joy.

Plan a holiday season that replaces hectic rushing with relaxed fun. Think how you can build in less stress and more laughter: A family movie or game night with your kids? A dinner out with friends instead of exchanging presents? A cozy evening with your partner? A leisurely walk or drive around town to see the Christmas lights?

We've all seen the alternative: Fidgety people in line at the mall, tapping their feet and checking their watches as they wait for the cashier. Sometimes they're yelling at their kids. Maybe we've been those fidgety people. Is that how any of us really want to celebrate the holidays?

I do practice what I preach. For years, I had the image in October that the rest of the year was like a rollercoaster. I was just reaching the top, and from then till New Year's was the long plummet downhill, gathering speed all the time. Finally I decided I wanted off the rollercoaster. Instead of plucking countless pine needles out of my carpet, I have a tiny tabletop Christmas tree with a hint of glistening "ice." Instead of driving myself crazy criss-crossing the mall looking for presents, I do most of my shopping online. I select events that nurture my spirit; in the next week I'm looking forward to a Christmas caroling session and a Winter Solstice celebration. And my card list now only contains people who are currently in my family's life.

As I play carol CDs in my car while running errands, I feel the beauty of Christmas in a way I haven't in years.

May your days be merry and bright!

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 29th, 2007 03:36 am (UTC)
I find that "just say no" is good policy year-round, not just at Christmas. Being very choosy about how I spend my valuable time prevents me from feeling totally stressed out and resentful towards others.

I say no frequently and with a kind of subtle relish. As in "No, I won't be coming to your Partylite/Creative Memories/Pampered Chef/Home Jewelry party." Or, "No, I can't make it to your friend's neighbor's daughter's kindergarten dance recital."

I don't even make excuses or apologize anymore. I just say no, and I feel liberated!!! :-)
Dec. 29th, 2007 04:07 am (UTC)
Good for you!!

(There's also the category of, "No, I'm not buying wrapping paper/candy/Girl Scout cookies/magazine subscriptions for your third-grader's best friend's class.

Unless they're selling kettle corn. Love that stuff... )
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )