Friday, November 29, 2013

Traditions: Don’t let them overwhelm your holiday

While doing pre Thanksgiving grocery shopping, I met a neighbor whose husband had recently died. Her cart was heavily laden with the fixings for a very large Thanksgiving dinner, yet her eyes were wet with tears. As we briefly chatted, she told me that the good thing about the holidays is that “they’re over pretty quickly.”

A number of people share this sentiment-the Saturday after Thanksgiving is either the beginning of the “most wonderful time of year,” or “hell month.”  There are as many people as there are reasons for finding the holidays “stressful.”

Family and friends have various and assorted traditions. Some believe that these are sacred and need to be adhered to at all cost, whether they continue to work, or people have the energy, stamina or finances to implement them. The upside of tradition is that it provides continuity from year to year and it can be something everyone looks forward to. The downside is that it can become a burden versus a joy and something that can cause worry and stress-not good things for anyone, but particularly bad for those affected by chronic conditions.

Nothing stays constant. Things are always changing and so traditions need to be adjusted accordingly. Consider the following:

Think about your favorite holiday experiences. What was it that made it so special? Write down the various holiday traditions you either provide or take part in.  

Rank them from most enjoyable to least. Do any of them incorporate the magical memories of holidays past? Does that influence how you rank them?

Assess realistically what you have the time and energy to do this season. When you add this factor to your list, does it change the ranking?

Delete the ones that are not enjoyable, too difficult to do or you can’t really afford. Gift giving is one that many people struggle with. You might continue to give gifts but modify what you spend. Check out The Helpful Guide to Simple Christmas Links for ideas to simplify the holidays.

Institute some new ways of doing things that better reflect who you are and your current situation,

Talk to family and friends about the changes you are making and why. Some will understand it and others, well maybe not so much. Keep in mind that they are responsible for how they feel and it’s not your job to take that on.

Ideas from family and friends should be listened to but only adopt the ones that you can reasonably do.

Open your life to new ways of doing things.

No is a choice. Saying it can simplify life considerably.

Simplify and savor the holidays.

Holiday Posts from Previous Years

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