The Holiday Stress starts for me today. And I hate that. Every November 1st. It is like a slap in the face that we don’t do the holidays like I want to. It is the beginning of the most stressful time of year that I have very little control over. This is the time when I am stressed, and unhappy, and wanting to change how we do it. But I am incapable of changing it. A lot of it is things that are outside my control.
What do I want to change, but probably can’t:
1. The kids and their “wanting-all-the-things.” I mean, I can’t really blame them with all the IN.YOUR.FACE marketing they’ve been exposed to since birth, that really ramps up during the holiday season. But I hate all the junk toys that never get played with. Not to mention, that we are a family of 6 living in a 1425 sq feet house. I try to “guide” the kids toward wanting more practical things, the things that I know they will play with. Sometimes it works.
The bigger two kids get it, but now they are at the age when the gifts they want are only higher priced electronic things. So I run into trouble with them when people ask me what to get them and they only want to spend $20. Gift cards are the obvious choice, and I LOVE when they get that, but it is not exciting for them to open. So we run into the problem of them not looking/acting grateful and/or appreciative. Especially the 10 year old, he has trouble with expressing his emotions.
The 4 year old just wants stuff, stuff, and more stuff. Every commercial since October has something he wants. This is not surprising since he wants anything and everything when we go into any store. How do I reign that in? I mean, it is so easy to make him happy with stuff. Why would I tell someone to buy him clothes?
2. _EDITED_ It is stressful having to come up with ideas for gifts for other people to buy my kids. Now I know how that sounds, and I am grateful that people want to buy my family presents. It is GREAT! But it is stressful for ME, and this is my blog post, on MY blog about MY holiday stress. It is stressful because I have to deal with other people’s timelines (Yes, I would like to be done with my shopping by Thanksgiving too! Who wouldn’t?). Also, some of these relative’s don’t shop online, so if I find something from online, then I have to buy it and wait for them to reimburse me. Then, I have to deal with other people’s budgets. More than a few times, I have had a perfect gift that I want to buy for my kids, but some relative is short a present and they want to spend the amount of the perfect gift that I want to get them. So, realizing that the important thing is the kid getting something they will like, I let the relative get it for them. Then I have to come up with something else from us.
3. The “Not-Mine” Traditions. One of my biggest surprises when I got married is that the traditions that worked for my family for years were now still expected to be my traditions. So I somehow had to try and work in Scott’s family and their traditions. Not a great way to start a marriage together. I must admit, Scott’s family was very gracious and accommodating, but it was still stressful to go to 3 Christmases. And then his family made it even easier when his dad moved to Wisconsin. But now I’m stuck with my side’s traditions, that are fine, but just not mine.
In fact, my favorite Christmas ever was our second year in Colorado. There was a blizzard that prevented us from flying out on December 23rd. So we had our own Christmas and then went to a friend’s for Christmas dinner. It was so, so wonderful. Then when we did fly back home, we did a parred down Christmas that was so low-key and nice and only the family members we truly care about. It was only our second Christmas in Colorado, but sadly, it was our last.
4. Religion. I feel like part of my trouble with Christmas is trying to celebrate a religious holiday without having any religion in my life right now. But it is so hard to get back into it. I miss parts of it and not other parts. Scott doesn’t want any part of religion and it is hard to do it on my own. It is a whole can of worms that I chose just to keep putting off, but around the holidays I feel a more pressing need to do something. My 13 year old asked me last month, “Why do people think Jesus was the son of God?” I just couldn’t satisfactorily answer it because she doesn’t have any religious framework to pull from. I felt like what could have been a great teaching moment was lost because we haven’t raised her in The Church.
Most of those above things are things I WANT to change, but are not going to happen this year or anytime soon. That is where a lot of the stress comes from. So, I am going to focus on things I can do to alleviate other stresses of the holidays. Maybe this will make the above items not so troubling.
What I’m going to do to try to reign in the stress this year:
1. Get my gift idea lists done by next week. For everyone: Grandma, my mom, Scott’s sister, me. This will alleviate a huge amount of stress.
2. Get my Christmas cards and photo calendars done by November 20th.
3. Keep it simple. Keep it meaningful.
4. Find a charity, soup kitchen, adopt-a-family, something that we can give to and start to make a yearly tradition.