Monday, December 21, 2015

Are Holidays Stressing You Out? Part One

Hello my dear friends,

Image credit Olga Dewar
It is difficult to believe by looking outside that we are just few days away from Christmas Eve! I am really not sure what to compare this weather of rain, frost and thaw to. And the little snow we got early Saturday morning is gone! Some will agree with me that having mild spring temperatures at the end of December is nice but it will be great to have some snow on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! We live in Canada after all! Well, all I can do is to put a good word with the main man himself, Santa?

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And since during this time of the year we are bombarded with TV and Radio ads and questions from family, friends and others about our readiness for Christmas, I would like to ask you just one question
- are holidays stressing you out?

Of course I know there will not be one answer to my question and if you know me well, you know that discussion is in-order. Maybe a little one-sided for now but I am sure you'll have something to add. So, let's begin!

Christmas is my favorite time of the year! I grew up in Russia and during that time we did not celebrate this holiday, New Year was the BIG one! This was the time when we decorated the tree and the house, spent time with family and exchanged presents. It has changed now and Russia celebrates Christmas just like Canada. A little trivia for you - it is celebrated on January 7th. So, I'll be off till the mid-January, but perhaps this is another post... Back to our story now.

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I was however introduced to celebration of Christmas in 1995 - my first year in Canada. It was a magical and exciting time: it was my son's and my first Christmas - "Canadian" Christmas. There was a beautiful and fragrant live tree, lots of pretty lights and of course many presents. It was time to learn Christmas and family traditions, try a lot of new food and open lots of presents. It was fun!!!!

But as years went by, I had a slightly different and confused sense about the celebration. I still loved Christmas time with the tree, the lights and the presents, but I also noticed that there were a lot more grumpy people. They were complaining about the traffic, the lines in the stores, the fact that they could not decide what to wear to the next Christmas party, the fact that they had to visit their in-laws, the fact that they ate too much at the last Christmas party and of course the fact that they spent too much money. And there was only one word to describe all that was happening to them - holidays were stressing them out!

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It puzzled me for years! And yes, at some point I fell into that trap as well. But I was lucky enough to realize that this was a wrong approach to the holidays and Christmas spirit. And what I though in the past was a disadvantage for my son and me, now recognized as blessing in disguise.

You see, since I am not your "normal" person, there were many financial struggles over the years. That of course always added some stress during Christmas time. The other fact is our family is very little - it consists of my son and me. Yes, Daniel has his Dad's side of the family of course but it is not that big either. And my family is still in Russia and has been reduced over the years as well. So, I mostly did not have to make many choices but work with what I had.

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Some might say: "Lucky you!". And you know what, I would agree! Those disadvantages taught me what are the most important aspects of Christmas. To me it is not about getting or giving the biggest and most expensive present, it is not about hitting the hottest parties in the hottest spots wearing hottest attire. To me it is about giving, appreciating what you have and reaching out and spending time with your family and friends! It is about LOVE! And LOVE should not be stressful!

So, I would like to share few tips on making your Christmas a little less stressful. We are going to start with a list of things to consider before Christmas:

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1. What are your plans? Are you staying in town or leaving? Are you hosting a party? Are you hosting a family dinner? Are there number of events that you have been invited to?
2. Do you have special family traditions? Do you have special plans for Christmas dinner? Are you cooking Christmas dinner or a contributor to one? Do you have "special eaters" in your dinner party?
3. What people on your list you would like to visit or connect with before, during and just after Christmas? Are they family or friends? Do some need a special visit this year?
4. What are you plans for presents this year? Do you have children? Do you have a large family? Do you have any special projects or charities to consider this year?
5. What are your plans for "you time"?

I believe those are the most important items to consider. They cover plans, food, people, presents (aka budget) and "you time". If I have forgotten anything I am sure you will quickly remind me. And thank you!

"Well, this is all wonderful and fantastic," you might say: "but what about your tips for dealing with all of the above?". They are on their way and you can read about them tomorrow.... I believe I've already dropped a lot to consider on you today!

So for now, I hope you enjoyed reading first installment. Here is my request, please send me other questions or items to consider. If I have not covered them yet, I will do my best to include them in tomorrow's post. In the meantime please share and remember....

Be Active! Be Involved! Be a Current Woman!

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