I have a confession to make. They totally don’t stress me out. I find them to be totally relaxing. Holidays are awesome.
And yes, I’m the one with kids. And yes, we celebrate Christmas.
Now, the end of the semester is a bit stressful. Finishing up classes, then the final exam, then grading. Also the OMG everybody is about to disappear we must have these last 50 faculty meetings to discuss urgent business. Oh, and the 20 referee reports that are due right in the beginning of December. And the 30 letters of recommendation. That part is kind of stressful. When all of that is over and the students are gone, it’s hugely peaceful. So our Christmas season doesn’t really start until classes end (sometime in the late teens or early 20s of December, depending on the year). The kids don’t seem to mind an abbreviated season at home even if school and stores start at Thanksgiving.
Do we make Christmas cookies? Sometimes. If we feel like it. Ditto Christmas breads. I like buying a little live rosemary tree a week or so before Christmas and we decorate that. Christmas shopping mostly happens online. Stocking stuffers (the only thing “Santa” brings) get bought at Target when we pick up gift cards for the teachers. We’ve taken the oldest to see the Nutcracker.
Having the kids home 24/7 can be a little stressful, whether it’s Christmas or not. (At least until DC2 learns to read like DC1.) We try to arrange family visits so they overlap at least a little with kids’ vacation so that they can burn some of their energy off on the relatives. Spread it out, so to speak. We definitely use daycare as much as it’s open, and DC1 goes to daycamp for one of the weeks that ze is off (same place ze goes in the summer).
This time of year articles start popping up about the Elf on the Shelf and all sorts of crafty etc. time-consuming holiday traditions that moms can do to make things magical. And that’s great for the parents who get utility out of doing stuff like that. We love that DC1’s best friend’s mom is doing another gingerbread house party this year.
But what about people who feel compelled to do all the Christmas stuff even though they hate it? The folks who are totally stressed out because they have to remember to move the elf every night, or they would rather watch a movie than make cookies, or they have a racist uncle Mike that they hate seeing every year at Christmas dinner?
Think about your sources of holiday stress (if any).
What happens if you:
1. Don’t do them? Would the world end if you just didn’t visit your racist relatives and stayed at home with the family you chose and you love instead? If you don’t do outdoor lights? Will the children be scarred for life if the elf moves to another house and never returns?
2. Pay someone else to do them instead? I learned this year that I will never adopt a family and go shopping for them again– instead I’ll just give money for someone else to shop with.
3. Get someone else in the family to do them? Why is it always mom’s job to bring holiday cheer? Maybe another family member can step in and take the kids to see the lights or bake cookies and clean up the kitchen etc.
4. Change them so they’re less stressful? Maybe instead of getting a big cut tree you can get something that’s more manageable. Maybe you can change a tradition so it’s more chill. Instead of 12 different batches of cookies, maybe one or two. Maybe it’s time for Santa to drop off the packages early and to leave them with some assembly required after they’re unwrapped.
5. Reframe them so they’re not as stressful? Sometimes you can just will yourself to enjoy a long drive (in the snow) to see the grandparents. It’s an adventure instead of a chore. Sometimes that’s not possible, but if you can’t get out of doing something, might as well make the best of it.
Do you have holiday stress? What tips do you have for avoiding holiday stress? What have you tried that’s worked for you?