I love Christmas! For me, it’s all about a dusting of snow, clementines and eggnog, a big turkey dinner, and my annual ritual of watching three movies:
- It’s a Wonderful Life.
- The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.
- A Christmas Carol. The 1951 version with Alastair Sims, of course.
Most importantly, I love Christmas because I get to cuddle up with my loved ones and tell them, in words or with gifts, how much they mean to me. This year is going to be special, because I get to share this with a little man, my son Alex.
Last year, he was too small to appreciate any of it. This time around, I hope I can instill in him the idea of family, love and gratitude for all the good things in our lives. He does not know, nor care, about Santa and he has not made him a list demanding toys and gadgets. I hope it stays that way for a long time. Though I can’t control what other members of my family will give him, I hope they have heeded my wish to keep it simple.
Here are a few moments of a new holiday tradition: Trimming the Tree!
What really worries me is people “over-gifting” and Alex spending an hour on Christmas morning ripping through a mountain of presents. I’d hate to see him in that frenzy of “give-me-more”, surrounded by crumpled up wrapping paper. That’s not what makes Christmas special.
Well, we’ll see how it goes and I won’t stress out about it before it even happens. I’ll remind myself that I can’t impose my values on others. After all, people are just so happy to have Alex in their lives they can’t help themselves but to give the whole world to him.
It’s all part of my new philosophy to keep it Zen. Recently, I helped produce a news feature with my friend (and fantastic reporter), Caroline, about how to deal with holiday stress. The lessons shared are worth repeating here:
1. Have a holiday budget
Don’t let consumerism go out of control. One gift is enough. And you’ll feel a lot less stress if you had time to make it personal and thoughtful, and fits within your budget. Create lists and amounts you want to spend. Avoid last-minute shopping and impulse buying. It’s a little too late to be thinking about that today I think, but the man we interviewed had a beautiful tradition of writing a letter to his wife, expressing all this gratitude and love for her.
2. Avoid overbooking yourself
Saying yes to too many events can leave you burned out.
3. Limit your exposure to toxic people
Budget your time for those must-attend events. We can’t always avoid them, but you can limit them to one or two hours. Don’t make it a whole-day affair because it will get overwhelming if it’s with people you’re not comfortable with and make you more stressed. Just say you have another commitment and you must leave.
4. Stay healthy
Get enough sleep and don’t overdo the food and drink.
And if you overindulge, go for a walk and take some fresh air.
5. Avoid sad triggers
Try to stay away from things that can provoke sad or negative thoughts.
Commercials and movies exposing the perfect family and perfect holiday are only edited versions of reality. Wallowing in them will only increase your feeling of loneliness and disappointment. It’s normal that things don’t work out perfectly. Just do your best, and take time to enjoy the good things.
Be kind to yourself and those you care about.
So, Merry Christmas to all. And God bless us every one.