The Wonder of Holiday Cheer

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you ‘Be of good cheer.’
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
– Edward Pola and George Wyle (1963)

And, for the most part, these lyrics ring true. The holiday season can be filled with wonder and good cheer: seeing family, sharing meals, swapping presents. Certainly the media does its best to instill in us the expectation that from early November to the end of December our lives should be filled with festive merry making.

Too often, though, all this merry making comes at a cost. After all, someone has to pick up the aunt and uncle from the airport, someone has to get up early and stuff the turkey, someone has to stay up to the wee hours on Christmas Eve wrapping the gifts. With all that going on, someone is in danger of getting stressed out. What if that person is you?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, “When the realities of day to day life conflict with our efforts to make the holiday season perfect, stress results.” Key to reducing holiday stress, experts say, is setting realistic expectations.

Here are a few concrete tips from the Cleveland and the Mayo Clinic on coping with holiday stress:

  • Ask people what they want instead of scouring the stores looking for the perfect gift and, while you’re shopping make sure you stick to your budget.
  • Buy prepared foods instead of cooking everything from scratch or ask others to bring food to your gatherings.
  • Simplify your holiday traditions and try not to over-schedule yourself. Do what’s most important to you and let go of the rest. Learn to say no. You don’t have to go to every function.
  • Avoid overeating and over drinking.
  • Set aside differences with your family and don’t bring up grievances until a more appropriate time, perhaps when after the decorations are put away and you have time to talk. Try to accept your family and your friends as they are, not as you would like them to be. Remember, no one – not even you – is perfect.

Above all, enjoy! By taking a few steps to make them less overwhelming, the holidays can truly be wonderful.

-Chaplain Scott Barron

Bookmark and Share