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Revamp Traditions: Steps for a Calmer Christmas

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2022 Mangum Thanksmas


Last year our growing family started a new tradition--Thanksmas. 

We all met at an airbnb for one long weekend, between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We enjoyed our traditional Thanksgiving meal (the cooked ham and turkey now come from the big box warehouse), played card games and board games, watched sports, Christmas movies, and just hung out together.

I even brought a felt Christmas tree with velcro ornaments to hang on the living room wall next to the fireplace. This year, the first grandchild, who is a toddler now, will get to place the first ornament on our felt Christmas tree.

Everyone is happy. A win-win situation for our family and the families of our adult children's spouses and significant others. No more eat-and-run-to-the-next-family-gathering or we-won't-be-there-since-we spent-the holiday-with-you-last-year reasons on the actual holidays.


Christmas Comes with It's Own Challenges

As a Resilience Coach, I recognize that the Christmas holidays, despite being a time of joy and celebration, often come with their own set of challenges, such as stress, anxiety, and even the possibility of disappointment.

This can stem from various factors, including high expectations for the perfect holiday, the pressure of family gatherings, and the financial strain of gift-giving. It's important to acknowledge these potential stressors and approach the holiday season with a balanced perspective.


The Common Source of Holiday Stress

One common source of holiday stress is the desire to recreate a picture-perfect scenario, often fueled by media portrayals and social expectations. Trying to meet these often unrealistic standards can lead to a feeling of inadequacy and disappointment when things don't go as planned.

Additionally, family dynamics can play a significant role in holiday stress. The pressure to maintain harmony, combined with the intensity of prolonged interactions, can be overwhelming.

Financial concerns, especially regarding the costs associated with gifts and celebrations, can also contribute to a heightened sense of anxiety during this period.

To navigate these challenges, it's essential to set realistic expectations and prioritize what truly matters. Remember, the essence of the holidays is about connection, love, and gratitude, not perfection.


Embracing Simplicity

Embracing simplicity can often lead to more genuine and fulfilling experiences. Cultivating an attitude of flexibility and openness can also alleviate the pressure of having everything go exactly as planned.

By focusing on the aspects of the holiday that bring true joy and meaning, it becomes easier to manage stress and create a more enjoyable and resilient holiday experience.


Focus on the Positive

Here are five ways to focus on the positive aspects of the holiday season:

  1. Embrace Realistic Expectations: Remember, it's okay if things don't go exactly as planned. Holidays often come with a mix of emotions and unforeseen events. By setting realistic expectations, you reduce the pressure on yourself and others, allowing everyone to enjoy the moments as they come.

  2. Establish Clear Boundaries: Communicate your needs and limits to your loved ones. Whether it's needing some alone time or politely declining certain activities, setting boundaries is key to maintaining your well-being. This also helps in avoiding overcommitment and burnout.

  3. Focus on Quality Time, Not Perfection: Instead of striving for the perfect holiday, concentrate on the quality of time spent with your loved ones. Engage in meaningful conversations, play games, or simply enjoy each other's company. These moments often create the most cherished memories.

  4. Practice Gratitude: Amidst the hustle and bustle, take time to reflect on what you're thankful for. Gratitude shifts your focus from what's lacking to the abundance around you, enhancing your overall holiday experience.

  5. Take Time for Self-Care: It's easy to get caught up in the demands of the season. Remember to take time for yourself. Whether it's a quiet walk, reading a book, or practicing meditation, self-care activities can recharge your batteries and keep stress at bay.


Remember, the holidays are a time for joy and celebration. By setting healthy expectations and boundaries, you can reduce stress and make the most of this special time with your loved ones. Embrace the season with an open heart and a mindful approach, focusing on the joy and warmth that comes with gathering, giving, and being together.

Which step will you take to have a calmer Christmas this holiday season?

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