Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Holiday Stresses


I've seen a few fellow bloggers (Journey to the Darkside, Spanky Loves Kallisto, Tales From The Top, to name a few) lamenting the stresses of the holiday season, and thought I'd add my two cents.

We used to get really stressed by the holidays, but over the last few years things have changed.

DH's family doesn't observe Christmas, so our traditions have their basis in what I grew up with, then tweaked to fit us. This also meant that the brunt of holiday activities fell to me -- cards, decorating, meals, shopping, etc. A few years ago, I decided I'd had enough.

Cards -- used to do them, but not anymore. I would stress about the cards I was sending, then feel the need to customize cards and envelopes, worry that I was forgetting someone, worry about getting them mailed in time.... So, I stopped. We never got that many, and it just seems like if the only contact with someone is the annual holiday card, are we really 'friends'?

Tree -- we've gone artificial. We could never agree on the real tree, they've gotten more expensive and no one would be responsible for keeping it watered (except me).

Shopping -- limit it to children (11 nieces/nephews + one more on the way) and one large gift per family. This year we actually got special gifts for my sibs and their spouses while on our cruise, then limited it to $10 per child, spent in one store on one day, wrapped that same day, then mailed the next business day. Online shopping for my mom and stepmom.

Meals -- family tradition was ham, but DH doesn't eat pork (or want the kids to), so this has been adjusted to be whatever the family decides on. We've done turkey, chicken, enchiladas, beef wellington (with mushrooms not pate). And judging by Thanksgiving, all three kids can now really help so it's not all me.

Decorating -- it's a family activity, but we really try not to go overboard. Whatever goes up will have to come down.

Parties -- we've never given one and are rarely invited (sounds pretty pathetic, huh?). i really do not enjoy large social gatherings, I'm shy and uncomfortable and tend to end up by myself in a corner. DH realizes this and doesn't push. And having grown up in a tourist town, I really don't enjoy community celebrations/festivals. I like the lights and decorations and music, but not the crowds.

Travel -- up until about 3 years ago we did a lot of Christmas travel. Not anymore. We've put our feet down and told family members that if they really want to see us, it's their turn to travel. And this is not driving a few hours travel. All my family is over a thousand miles away. It takes an entire day just to get there -- hour drive to the airport, wait a couple of hours for a flight that you hope is not delayed or over booked, several hour flight, wait to disembark, wait for luggage, wait for ride, at least an hour drive to final destination. All with hundreds of other families doing the same thing and stressed by the whole process. No thank you, not anymore.

So, you can see we've really simplified. We spend a nice quiet holiday, doing what we want to do, relaxing, going to the movies, whatever. Holidays are no longer something to be dreaded.

Now if I could just get DH to give me stress spankings when it does get to be too much... :)

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