It’s the holiday season. Full of sweet smells, family memories, favorite foods, gratefulness, expectations that can’t be met, dieting fails, stressful travel… Wait what!? Amidst all of those fun times and warm feelings are many feelings and situations that cause stress and anxiety. And what ends up happening is that holiday stress hijacks your Thanksgiving. Do you ever wish you could just skip the holidays because they aren’t worth the stress they cause?
Have you ever heard the quote, “Perfect is the enemy of the good.” That’s one of the things that I have struggled with during the holidays. I am good at conjuring up all kinds of expectations. I want the food to look gourmet, the crafts to be amazing, and the people to all think I am the second Martha Stewart. The fact is that while I love planning parties and get-togethers my expectations were hijacking my fun. It came to a head for me a couple years ago, when I was planning a party for my girls and their friends. I didn’t leave enough time for my perfection and then the perfect tree shaped brownies were burned and my attempt at making homemade sugar cookie houses was a disaster. And I was a frazzeled mess when it was time to start the party. The fun was swallowed up in the perfect. And then I was unhappy and not perfect. And I made those around me unhappy.
Maybe it’s not unrealistic expectations that hijack your Thanksgiving. But it could be the problems in a family relationship that you find yourself focusing on more than the good. Or your frustration about how others just expect you to go along with their desires hijack your Thanksgiving. I don’t know about you, but I want my Thanksgiving and the Christmas season to be about gratefulness, God’s plan for Christmas, and family memories. Whatever, your reasons for celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas, I am guessing that capturing stress is not really what you want your season to be about. So what can be done to keep holiday stress from hijacking your Thanksgiving?
Here are three things you can do today to keep holiday stress from hijacking your Thanksgiving and keep it about what you really want it to be about.
1)Decide on Your Top Priorities and Needs When It Comes to Thanksgiving:
What do you want your time spent to be about? Focus on that. Make sure that your plans align with those priorities. If you aren’t intentional about your needs and priorities, someone else’s expectations will quickly claim your time.
2)Be Realistic About Your Time and Resources:
Don’t over spend/stretch yourself. We each have a different ability for tolerating certain aspects of our Thanksgiving celebration. Build in the need to refuel in to your holiday celebrations. If your desire is to focus on your immediate family, don’t spend the whole weekend with extended family just because that is what you have always done. Make a budget for the food. Then stick to it and ask for help with the rest.
3)Have a Plan to Handle Stressful Family Interactions.
Think through what family interactions make your weekend most stressful and plan for them. Give yourself permission to take care of you and your family over struggling with another family interaction. Limit your time with those family members. If you know Uncle Al doesn’t do well with alcohol and it stresses the family out, don’t serve it.
The principles are universal. These may not be your examples. But as you are reading, I am sure you are envisioning your own struggle. Be intentional. Plan out your time and weekend in a way that melds with your desires. Then stick to it. I am not trying to say it’s easy. It takes work and their may be some angst, but you will set the stage for a better not bitter Thanksgiving.