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Every year for Christmas my family would get together to celebrate. At that time I had a rather large family. My aunts and uncles, grandparents, my mom and me. I mean, everyone came. And they traveled from long distances just to spend time at our family Christmas gathering. My grandmother was the ringleader of the whole affair. Cooking a ginormous elaborate meal with every side you can think of. Holiday cookies, pies, and treats galore!! The house smelled like a mixture of delicious ham, turkey, and gingerbread. My grandmother knew exactly how to reduce holiday anxiety for all of us. Little did we know this was going to be the last Christmas we all would spend together.
A few months later my grandmother got sick again. What that meant was that the breast cancer she had beat just a few years earlier had come back. Except there were no breasts left for cancer to attack, so it came back in her spine. Not good. Now my memory of the exact dates is a little fuzzy because I was pretty young. But my grandmother was diagnosed in about February. They only gave her a few months to live. My amazing mother put her own life on hold to care for my grandma those last few months of her life, instead of putting her in a home. My grandmother died a few months later. I remember it was at the end of the school year, probably about May. It was my first experience with death and little did I know that my grandmother’s death would completely change my outlook on Christmas.
Christmas without Glue
That next year at Christmas we tried to hold it at my grandmother’s house. But it just wasn’t the same without her. Not everyone showed up, there was animosity regarding my grandma’s will and the Christmas vibe wasn’t there anymore. It just wasn’t the same without grandma. She was the glue that held our dysfunctional family together. And now she was gone. And it felt like Christmas was no more.
Ever since then and with several horrible Christmas’ with my ex-abusive husband I had grown to hate Christmas. But my current husband helped me change that. Because deep down, I really did want to love Christmas again, I just needed to shift my mindset and past experiences with it and live in the now.
For many families, the holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year. But, the high expectations that come along with the holidays can lead to stress, depression or disappointment. With so many things that we need to get done in order to spread holiday cheer, it can be pretty easy to get overwhelmed. Here are a few things you can do to reduce holiday anxiety. Keep yourself feeling merry and mellow this holiday season.
Get Started Early
It’s never too early to start getting ready for this Christmas (or even next Christmas). Always keep an eye out for festive decorations or the perfect Christmas card while you’re out shopping. Not only will this give you less to worry about when Christmas is just around the corner, but buying holiday supplies off-season can also save you money. If the family Christmas festivities are going to be held at your house this year, start preparing weeks or even months ahead.
Connect with Family
The stress of the holidays is much easier to manage when you’re able to use the time to reconnect with family. Find new, fun ways to get into the holiday spirit together. You might try decorating Christmas stockings together as a family or singing carols around your community. You could even volunteer together at a local food bank or toy drive and help to spread some Christmas cheer. Whatever your plans this is a great time to really bond with family.
Bring Down Expectations
Over-hype and high expectations make preparing for Christmas festivities much more stressful. I can’t emphasize this enough. I’ll refer back to my story above. I had those high expectations every Christmas, but when grandma was gone, I didn’t adjust my expectations. If you worry yourself about having the best decorations, the most presents, or the most memorable dinner party, you could end up trying too hard (and going a little cray cray). Try to keep your family more focused on family and being together than decorations, presents or food.
Cut Down on Spending
Financial issues are one of the leading causes of stress, and Christmas tends to be a very costly time. Try to save money where you can so that you have one less thing to worry about. Think of inexpensive or sentimental gifts that you can give, rather than something costly from the store. The same goes for decorating. Homemade decorations for the house or tree save money, as well as provide an activity the whole family can enjoy. If you need some inspiration or ideas, check out my Christmas Pinterest Board. I have a ton of pins about buying gifts on a budget, cheap gifts for kids, gifts under $20 and so much more. I’m sure you will find something that could work for you!
Ask for Help
It’s very difficult to get everything done on your own during the Christmas season. But, you don’t have to get it all done by yourself. The ideal people to go to for help would be your family. All of the stress-inducing chores that you need to take care of can become fun family activities. Not only will this make things much easier, but your family is sure to cherish Christmas all the more if everyone helped make it happen together.
If you feel anxious when Christmas is a few weeks (or even months) away, you’re not alone. Many people consider the Christmas holidays to be the most stressful time of the year. But, as long as you avoid the over-hype and encourage your family to have realistic expectations, everybody in your family should have a peaceful and merry Christmas.
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