The Holidays. For some it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Others among us dread the weeks between Thanksgiving and the first of January for their frenetic pace, over-indulgence, out-of-control spending, over-the-top expectations and endless to-do lists. Our already full plates become even fuller as we somehow try to fit in the shopping, decorating, card-sending, cooking, baking, tip-giving, party-throwing, party-going and wrapping. I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite days of the year is December 26th, when the pressure wanes and everyone seems to relax a bit.
As I wrote at Thanksgiving, I absolutely believe that you can get through the holidays without putting on those dreaded 15 pounds (or even 10, 5 or 3!) Having achieved that goal for many years straight (again – it can be done – read that blog post), I set out this year with a different goal in mind. I wanted to experience the joy of the holidays and manage the stress. I remember a time when I used to literally run myself ragged through the holiday season with some ridiculous Martha Stewart-inspired cookie making aspirations. For some reason I thought that it simply wasn’t Christmas if I didn’t bake 15 different kinds of cookies. I actually started this inane tradition when I was just out of grad school, working at my first job, for a big six consulting firm. I would come home after long days and bake. I had cookies all over my tiny apartment in Connecticut. I remember cautiously stepping over carefully-laid out cookies placed on baking racks on the floor in the wee hours of the morning after staying up late, binge-baking. I don’t know who could have possibly eaten all these cookies. What I do remember vividly was racing into the pew of my church on Christmas Eve, feeling like I had crossed the finish line of a marathon.
Before you read any further, I want to assure you that I promise I will not be one of those bloggers who advise you to just not do it. To just not do Christmas (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa). To not decorate and to not bake ever and to not wrap gifts in pretty paper. I love all of that! I have three live Christmas trees in my house this year! If doing those things for yourself or for others brings you joy, you should do them. In fact, doing some of those activities might make you less stressed.
When I started to write this blogpost, I realized that I had a lot to say! It was way more than “Follow these six easy steps for a stress-free holiday!” My journey to a less-stressful holiday has taken years – and I am still a work in progress. I have taken brilliant learnings from many wise women (and men!) and I’ve put together a combination of suggestions that I’m calling the Twelve Days of Stress Less Christmas. I’ll post one suggestion each day here on the Sheehan blog for the next twelve days. So check back in beginning tomorrow for the first tip. In the meantime, believe that you can have a less stressed holiday.