Staying Sane for Christmas

Dear Santa,

I'd like to maintain my sanity during Christmas. Will that fit in my stocking?

Love, Me

I don't know what it is about the holidays, but stress seems to ramp up for some (all?) people. This season of good cheer and sparkly tinsel occasionally coincides with some not-so-cheerful incidents like an illness, a death in the family, or a stressful month at work. Add in the shopping, the commercials and pressure to buy "just the right thing" and family members all vying for your presence on that special day and you may find yourself wishing you didn't celebrate Christmas at all.


So... how do you stay sane this Christmas? Worry not! I have a few tips...


(1) Compromise.

Ahh, everyone's least favorite c-word. During the holidays especially, the ole give-and-take can be a life-saver. This tip falls under the category of "choose your battles."

Your siblings want to do a gift exchange even though you planned on buying for each of them. Your husband's mother wants to cook her favorite (pot roast!) and you're a vegan. Whatever issue you're confronted with, keep in mind that digging in your heels might not be the best course of action. A creative solution could help. Agree to the gift exchange with your siblings, but ship the other gifts after the holiday with a note explaining that you wanted to give something extra special this year thanks to a big Christmas bonus. Bring a vegan dish to share to dinner at your in-laws, but assure your MIL that your hubs will eat enough pot roast for the two of you. 


(2) Pick one.

Does it make more sense to do all your holiday visits in one day? Then do that! I moved last year, so Christmas celebrations have changed since I'm the one coming to town to visit. The solution? I combine family visits into one day (this year, we're visiting on Christmas Eve) so that the husband and I can spend Christmas Day at home. Splitting our time between family members makes the most sense because we live far away, and they're in the same town. It also gives us a chance to sit around in our pajamas Christmas morning without having to pack up the car and travel on back-to-back days.

(3) Don't explain.

Here's a fun fact: You're a grown-up and therefore entitled to say no. Just because you've always done something a certain way doesn't mean you have to do it that way until the end of time. Don't want your aunt's calorie-laden dessert even though it used to be your favorite? If a simple "no, thank you" doesn't do it, simply repeat it. You don't have to explain why and you don't have to justify your decision. Be polite but firm. If it'll ease the tension at the dinner table, offer to take a piece home whether you plan on eating it or not.

Say you book a cruise over the holidays for your family. Your children are stoked, but your parents are ... well, not. Grandma and grandpa always see the kids on Christmas! Explain to the g'rents that this year you're doing something special but you're available before or after your trip for a special celebration with them. If this meets with resistance (and it might), just repeat yourself. The fact remains: you're not going to come over to their house for Christmas because you'll be on a very big boat in the center of the ocean, but you can come over on the 22nd or the 28th. Focus on the positive and once the date is agreed upon go forward with planning a fun, relaxing get-together.


I hope these tips help you keep your sanity during Christmastime, but if not there's always eggnog.

~Jessica Lemmon