Transitions during different seasons of life are unsettling, especially when the transition takes the place of tradition. Holiday traditions are one of the pulls of the season, they are what encourages people to look forward to Christmas. Traditions are the stuff of warm and fuzzy holiday stories, memories, and experiences; it makes sense their disappearance takes away from the holidays.
Few things are as stressful as the holiday season can be. There is a lot of pressure to perform, but not in the traditional sense of the word. Performing at the holidays is when you’re dressed in your Christmas best, when you’re being encouraged to join in for caroling at the local hospital, or when you’re hosting your in-laws for the first time.
Maybe this is the first year you’re spending the holidays with your significant other. Maybe it’s the first year your parents aren’t flying in from home; they’re taking a trip to somewhere tropical without a chance of snow. Spending Christmas (or whatever holiday you may be celebrating) in a new way can be stressful and almost disappointing, but it doesn’t have to be.
There’s a definite feeling of pressure when it comes to buying gifts for Christmas. Presents are so much fun, right? They’re wrapped with pretty paper, topped with glittery bows, and usually filled with things we want. However they’re just things, and it would do to remember this fact when social media is showcasing the things people have received.
It’s disappointing when Christmases are not the stuff of our nostalgic memories. When they’re not the same as they once were. Buying gifts is a part of celebrating the holiday, but it isn’t everything. It shouldn’t be everything. Like Cindy Lou Who once said:
“I’m glad he took our presents. You can’t hurt Christmas, Mr. Mayor, because it isn’t about the… the gifts or the contest or the fancy lights. That’s what Cindy’s been trying to tell everyone… and me. I don’t need anything more for Christmas than this right here: my family.”– Lou Lou Who, How the Grinch Stole Christma
Christmas, after all, means more than something bought in a store. If you have to forgo gift giving this year, don’t subscribe to the guilt our commercial society is going to heap on you. If you have love and family, and you shower the latter with the former, your holiday will be merry and bright, regardless of the mere things beneath your tree.
The typical trope of the awful in-laws and overbearing family often comes true at the holidays when they’re visiting.
It’s tremendously difficult to keep in mind that when you’re hosting, it’s your home. Your mother-in-law doesn’t need to hustle and bustle around your kitchen. Your father doesn’t need to constantly comment on what may or may not need to be fixed around your house. Your grandmother – or whoever, really – doesn’t need to get into your business even though you can bet your bottom dollar that they will.
That’s OK. Be prepared. Be ready with your bottom line and know that boundaries are good – if not great – and healthy for you and your family. And if the worst guest faux-pas happens, such as someone drinking too much while they’re hanging out for holiday festivities or they bring someone who isn’t invited, you’ll all be OK.
You may be the visiting relative. You might be the guest and if that’s the case, there are some things to keep in mind to help ease the discomfort of staying there. Whether they’re your family or your significant other’s family, it isn’t easier to be the guest than it is to be the host.
Start by bringing something with you. Presents are nice, but a small hostess gift is perfectly fitting. Many hosts prefer a bottle of wine which is simple enough to acquire if you’re traveling. Or let’s be real. A deliciously candle is likely more than enough. It’s the thought that counts, anyway.
Keep in mind when you’re visiting you do not necessarily need to stay on your host’s schedule. Plan some things to do that help you get out of the house, even if it’s just taking a small walk with your girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife, or otherwise.
As Christmas approaches, the reason for the season is never more evident. We are celebrating the magic of the holiday, our mugs frothing over with Christmas cheer, and our hearts near ready to burst with excitement, anticipation, and hundreds of other feelings.
Christmas isn’t a season, it isn’t a holiday. It’s a state of mind. Find peace there, deck the halls, and be merry and bright for there’s no reason to lose out on the holiday experience even if things are changing.