Holiday Guilt Tripping: Pulling the Plug on the Holiday Pressure Cooker

The Holidays are supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, right?

Yet why do so many of us feel like curling up and hiding under the covers in the days leading up to Christmas. It seems by the third week of December there’s way more Scrooges than Santa Clauses roaming around…and its no wonder with the amount of pressure we put on ourselves to create the perfect holiday. I have to admit that I am guilty of this self-inflicted holiday angst, and I’ve sadly kicked it up a notch since becoming a mother. It has to stop (because I actually want to enjoy the holidays). So, I’ve put together a few tips on how we can us stress-masters can pull the plug on the holiday pressure and have some fun instead!

Holiday Etiquette Out the Door

For the past two weeks every time I turn on the radio or catch a television clip on holiday entertaining I hear how absolutely essential it is to be a good guest and bring the host a fabulous gift to show how appreciative you are. I always thought a bottle of wine was good enough, but NO, big NO NO. This year I have been told by the etiquette police that I must bring two bottles of course – one for the host and one to share at the party. So last weekend before heading to my girlfriend’s place, I stood in front of the wine aisle pondering, do I buy two of the same bottle, two red, two white, one of each, one domestic, one import…it was actually quite ridiculous. But we feel that we have to be the perfect holiday guest because the voice on the radio has said so…and then that becomes the voice in our head. If we just stick to our common courtesy and common sense, and throw this whole notion of some sort of of extreme holiday etiquette out the door we can save ourselves some stress. Keep it simple and toss the special rules aside.

Personally, I know my girlfriend loves chocolate so if I bring her some great dark chocs that’s more than enough and she will appreciate the treat later in the week when her kids are driving her up the wall. My Mom is so amazingly wonderful and just loves to have all her grand kids together so I don’t need to bring anything bravado but a dashing smile and helping hand in the kitchen. Volunteering to wash the dishes is way more valuable to my Momma than a bottle of Merlot. We know our friends and family and what makes them happy. Forget the fuss.

Who invited the Joneses’ to our Holidays?

As women we seem to take things an extra step further with the people pleasing. I hadn’t even thought about buying my son’s teachers gifts until I heard all my friends chatting about the wonderful gifts they had prepared for their kids’ teachers, and then started sharing the pictures of their neatly wrapped treasures. Was I horrible, selfish person for forgetting about Miss Aisha and Miss Georgetta and Miss…oh my gosh I can’t even remember the other teacher’s name! No, I’ve been working really late nights, in between trying to write Christmas cards for all my family, friends and co-workers and the pre-school teachers slipped my mind. But the next day I hustled to the store, bought some beautifully wrapped biscuit tins, wrote a whack more cards and off we went. But it was that feeling of not being as good as my peers that pushed me so fast, and pushed my blood pressure up just as speedy too.

When you think about all the madness and circles we run to create the perfect holidays, from the visits to the mall to sit on Santa’s lap, which ensues in tears of terrors from both my kids, to the Elf on the Shelf, that I keep forgetting to move every night – and have now resorted to telling my son the fib we’ve sadly nabbed a lazy little Elf, who sometimes sleeps in and forgets to fly back to the North Pole at night – and it all starts to seem rather foolish.

The Holidays are about family and spending time together. They are about love and laughter. And for many, the true essence of the holidays is about celebrating the Lord and our Faith.

So, if we can remember what this time of year is really about, then suddenly that warm and fuzzy feeling starts to return and we can let some of that small stuff fall to the wayside….at least for a short while until the eggnog and Baileys buzz wears off.