Some say the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year. However, most would agree this time of year can be the source of so much more stress. The usual hustle and bustle of busyness has suddenly been replaced this year by so much less. Less on the calendar, less shopping, and less stress in some ways. Have you found that less can be so much more special this year?
Less on the Holiday Calendar
I don’t know about you, but by Thanksgiving, my calendar is usually booked full throughout the end of the year with various holiday events. From playdates to school programs, holiday recitals, year-end sports events, and of course, holiday parties, there is always something to attend. December means a schedule full of volunteer commitments, winding down the school term, and plenty of year-end work deadlines. It is no wonder just looking at my calendar is often a source of stress.
Then along comes 2020, the year of cancellations. Suddenly, there are no parents allowed at school, or there may not be any live school for you at all. Parties and large gatherings are reminiscent of a holiday season that has long since passed. There may still be the occasional workaround for a traditional holiday gathering of some sort. Yet, by and large, the busy aspect of the season has slowed considerably. Somehow, this is so much more calming for people like myself.
I love spreading holiday cheer as much as the next person. However, one must admit the forced commercialism of the holidays is sad. It is my goal to give personal and meaningful presents to loved ones and friends. I also want to give of my time and talents to help others. However, the stress associated with the holiday season and the mad frenzy of crowds somehow takes the joy right out of joyful.
This year, many people can’t afford to shop as they usually would. Others may still be shopping but in a different manner. You see the joy of gift-giving changes a bit when all are celebrating far away from family and friends. However, less traditional shopping has perhaps made room for so much more giving, albeit different types of gifts. Is it possible for us to become so much more focused on sharing gifts of service, time, wisdom, joy, and forgiveness this year?
The holidays are stressful. It is no wonder that trying to find the time to decorate, put up the tree, bake holiday treats, play Santa, pack for trips, shop for gifts, wrap presents, attend events, travel long distances, avoid family drama, and cook large meals, is just exhausting. Last but certainly not least, I can’t forget to mention the elf. That little bundle of goodness brings the children so much more joy and the parents so much more stress. Suddenly, many of these typical stressors have vanished if we have allowed them to disappear.
I fully understand some holiday stress is self-inflicted. However, plenty of it also exists because of the norms we allow society to place upon us. Social media exacerbates the pressure of the holiday season. Isn’t the idea of having less stress this holiday season just a tad refreshing?
No matter what the year has thrown at us, one thing has remained the same. We all have to think of new and creative ways to reframe what the holidays traditionally look like for our families. It is up to us to put the happy into our holidays no matter the circumstance. Happiness doesn’t come from a box, bag, or store of any kind. Instead, it is within our hearts. Focus on the simplicity of what means the most in your heart this holiday season. Perhaps you will agree with me that less might be so much more special if you do.