The holiday season is once again upon us. No matter what holiday tradition you practice, everyone can relate to the stresses of the holiday season. Food has to be cooked, family has to be gathered, travel plans have to be made and everyone has to rearrange their schedules so we can theoretically be happy during the coldest part of the year.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we create so much stress when our goal is to reduce stress and enjoy time with family and friends? Like most things, the insanity surrounding the holidays is temporary. Best of all, it can be avoided. The traditions we keep are only worth holding onto if they are feasible.
If it takes all day to cook a turkey, ask yourself if that’s something worth doing. Although turkey is certainly a tradition for the Thanksgiving holiday, it doesn’t mean we have to continue it. The same goes for any holiday that involves gift giving, such as Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanza. Everyone likes to receive presents, but do we really need to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars in order to celebrate?
The temporary insanity surrounding the holidays has to go. We’re stressing ourselves out simply because tradition tells us we have to. Start a new tradition this year; one that not only celebrates a holiday but also truly represents a joyous occasion. Instead of forcing Grandma to stay in the kitchen, grab some Chinese takeout and let her spend extra time with the grandkids.
Instead of buying presents or impersonal gifts, have everyone buy a plane ticket to Maui and get away from the Kansas winter for a few days. If that isn’t affordable, have everyone get together and help serve meals at one of the local homeless shelters. Serving those who are less fortunate helps to remind us how lucky we are.
Rather than view the holidays as a checklist of components, make them truly personal. Leave behind the traditions that are too troublesome or create undue burden. The holidays are not a time for people to feel sorry for themselves; it offers us a chance to celebrate what is best in life: family, friends and an appreciation of the values that make us who we are.