Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Christmas Stress

Yesterday in my post, "Rediscovering the Christmas Season" I talked about my love for the Christmas season. I'm loving the reading that I'm doing to refocus my energy and thoughts on the time of year. I don't get too worked up over the material stuff of the Christmas season, although I am pretty excited about the Blu-Ray player I'm getting this year.

Sometimes, however, and this year is no exception, stress always seems to creep in around this time of year. For me, stress makes me irritable (I'm sure none of you can relate) and I lose out on opportunities to enjoy my family the way I intend to during the Christmas season.

Last week I stumbled upon a series a blog posts by the Orange Parents blog on "Christmas Stress". I love the big-picture, imagine the end thought that Reggie Joinner and Carrie Nieuwhof put into each of their posts. Here's one of the ideas from part 2 that I really liked.

Travel less

The tug-of-war some people go through at Christmas makes this season their least favorite time of the year. Trying to figure out how to see every relative during the holidays is enough to put some families in therapy. I am not sure why every parent expects their adult children to pack up their kids and make a personal house call every Thanksgiving and Christmas, but somehow it has become the standard expectation. The problem is that the growing complexity of family has taken all of the peace and good will out of the season. I know families who are expected to drag their children to at least four different sets of parents and step-parents, just to keep everyone happy. Maybe it’s time to have a heart to heart with all of the in-laws, and come up with some creative solutions. Consider putting parents on an annual rotation, or better yet, invite them to take turns every other year to come to your house. Just be creative. But don’t sacrifice a quality experience at Christmas for your immediate family by trying to live up to everyone else’s unrealistic expectations.
And then another from part 3:

Take a Holiday on Your Vacation

I love thinking through the meaning of words, and while I’m no etymologist (and am not even sure how to say that word properly, but they are people who study word origins), years ago I started thinking about the difference between a holiday and a vacation. ”Holiday” is a word that came from the fusion of “holy” and “day”. Vacation, on the other hand, is from the Latin word vacare meaning ‘empty’ or ‘free’.

Every Christmas, I try to take both. I try to mark the spiritual meaning of Christmas in some way that is personally significant. I try not to lose the meaning of Christmas in my rush.

And part of that means learning not to rush. So I also try to ‘vacate’ and take some time off. That doesn’t necessarily mean heading out of town, but it does mean planning a few days of nothing others than maybe hanging out or leaving footprints in the snow on a long hike.

Book some time to simply vacate and set aside time to reflect on what matters most. It’s a way of refueling.
There are 5 parts to the whole series. Check them all out at