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WISDOM WITHIN - December 2016 - Kansas City
How to Ease Holiday Stress
By Suzette Scholtes
Decades ago, I interviewed a number of ladies on how to ease holiday stress. The article was published in the FYI section of the Kansas City Star. Some years later, a reporter took my article word-for-word and published it again. I called her and warned her about copyright laws. But still this counsel is timeless so here we go!
The average American spends about 42 hours a year on holiday activities. That averages about a week of shopping, wrapping, attending parties, and traveling. Often, these activities get squeezed into our current busy schedules.
The two top stressors, according to a survey, are chaotic schedules and money concerns. Women tend to feel a bit more stressed than the guys and parents feel more stress as they plan for their children.
Our holidays are chaotic and noisy. I enjoy cooking and carrying on the traditions. Our table now hosts grandkids and various nephews and nieces who keep the party even more fun.
Over the years, we have designed family guidelines. They keep the heart open and the joy abounding. They help create boundaries of respect, caring, and gratitude for one another.
Rule 1 – No Whining in the Kitchen
Actually, the no whine rule applies to the whole house. We established this family rule years ago when paying for vacations. Why should one spoiled apple ruin the whole bunch? If someone gets in a “mood” they are expected to isolate themselves, deal with it, or leave. No negative vibes are allowed near the food.
Rule 2 – Eliminate
My sister, Jeanette, loves to write out Christmas cards while I’m “not fond” of that task. The stress management gurus advise us to cut down or eliminate obligations or tasks you do not enjoy. Do what you prefer best you can! Our house looks like a holiday showcase because we love decorating. We get it done then kick back and enjoy the beauty.
Rule 3 – Delegate & Plan
It’s my Christmas day to enjoy especially as host. Many families share the tradition of “bringing something.” We plan the menu, assign the dishes, and delegate. When asking for help, use such language as “Are you willing to make a pecan pie?” That way we allow the other person to feel empowered to make their choice. It opens you to negotiate. Maybe they bring something store-bought. We do our best to foster an environment where each family member feels valued and honored.
Rule 4 - Budget
We know this one. Why pay l8 to 20% after the holidays on charges you made? If you don’t have it, do not spend it. This creates a lot of anxiety in January and is not a loving choice to make.
Rule 5 – Keep Your Routines
Best we are able, we keep our commitments to exercise, eat right, and get plenty of sleep during the busy holiday months. It’s a paradox, truly, that the shortest day of the year, winter solstice, is December 21. Our ancestors cozied up by the fire, roasted chestnuts, and went to bed early. Sounds good to me!
Every January, Ma and I would sort out her closet, looking for stocking caps for the big snow coming. We would find wrapped Christmas gifts lost in the jumble of old sweaters, unmatched socks, various colored mittens, and yellowing baby books. She usually let me have the gifts for helping her out. I knew they were 29 cent panty hose from the budget store. Yes, she gave us panty hose for Christmas! Ma NEVER went over the budget! And for that matter, she loved the holiday so much she seldom felt much stress.
Suzette Scholtes’ non-fiction writing won the prestigious “Writers Digest” award. Her passions are writing and yoga and she feels one needs a sense of humor for both. She founded The Yoga School of Therapeutics where she manages one of the regions prestige teacher training programs. 10400 W. 103rd Street,