(SNN) - This holiday season, many of my friends made a last minute dash-about Chanukah or Christmas plans. They were stressed about getting a tree (or candles and gelt), getting it set up, decorating it and the house, cooking treats and planning for big dinners, buying last minute presents, wrapping gifts... Generally it is women doing all this work on top of their normal housework and full-time jobs, and it puts us in a daze.
I say stop the madness. Stop decorating and cooking treats and spending money many can't afford to spend and wrapping our money in costly paper and tissue and ribbons. Stop working as a full-time holiday hostess and take the time instead to enjoy guests and the days. Take time to breathe.
I don't mean to insinuate no one should ever do any of these things. I have a cousin-in-law who loves to decorate for the holidays. She starts well before Thanksgiving, setting up village scenes and choosing a theme and decorating the tree and the house. She loves it. It doesn't stress her to do this, instead it's a creative outlet for her. I can attest to the beauty of her creative choices. Fortunately she doesn't work outside the home, and so has the time to invest in planning and preparing each year.
For many others the holidays are laden with stress and extra work and only after the holiday is over and the trappings put away can we take a deep breath and unwind, and then think about how we will pay for all that hard work. Why? Why get caught in that every year?
Rather, why not? Next year why not just enjoy each other’s company. Spend a few hours together feeding the homeless, giving them warm socks and coats or a hot meal. Or spend time getting to know a homeless family. I guarantee you will feel blessed by comparison. There is a multitude of other options. There are homeless animals, impoverished families living on the brink of homelessness, women and children living in shelters for the domestically abused...
Visit art museums, spend time in nature, make snow angels, build a snow fort and have a snowball fight. Wear your sweats and relax with each other.
Too many people have been trained by marketing experts to create the perfect holiday ambiance by buying, buying, buying and working, working, working. Maybe spending IS good for the economy, but is it good for our health?
After you and your guests have bonded over these experiences, go home and cook dinner together while you visit. After dinner clean up the kitchen together then relax and enjoy more time together. And if you must decorate, integrate it into your visit with friends and family as a group activity--it might make a great icebreaker.
When you return to work you'll feel more refreshed rather than being tired and glad the holidaze is over.
What are some ideas YOU have to de-stress the holidays?
Maye Ralston is an opinion columnist for The Sage and contributor to Writing Heartland blog. She is also a blog contributor and member of the Midwest Writers Workshop Planning Committee.
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