It’s the end of the year and not only are end-of-the-year budget reports due, family visitors may be expected – perhaps expecting a holiday that would rival anything held on Walton’s Mountain with a price tag from Kate Spade’s holiday collection. It may be nearly impossible not to feel the stress of expectations during the last half of December, but how can that tension be somewhat alleviated?
The answer is that it can’t, unless expectations are managed. Very few people can hold down a full-time job and create the perfect holiday with homemade gifts, food and decorations. On top of that, people expect themselves to be able to create the perfect meal, have perfectly well-behaved children, while making it seem effortless.
Even Martha Stewart has a team of professionals who help her to create the illusion of perfect simplicity. No one can do it alone, and for many people this time of the year the question arises, “How did the holidays get this complicated?”
The fact is that the holidays are what we make of them. Most of the stress that we bring on ourselves over minutiae is completely overlooked when family shows up at the door.
A barking dog announcing the arrival of grandparents or happy children squealing is a much better greeting than the perfect holiday wreath on the outside of the house. Only the stuffiest of guests will notice regular hand towels in the bathroom as opposed to fancy, freshly pressed holiday towels.
While it’s true that homemade is usually less expensive, sometimes it’s easier – and much more sane – to have store bought rolls on the table and a frozen pie waiting in the wings.
During the holidays it’s important to choose what’s most important on which to spend our time. So consider homemade gifts for friends and family, but rely on a gift certificate to a local coffee shop for close co-workers. Or what about a batch of homemade candy for the people at the office, but frozen vegetables served in a family heirloom at a holiday dinner?
Realizing that not everything can be picture perfect is the easiest way to reduce holiday stress and enjoy friends and family.