9 October 2008

Reducing your Christmas stress - UPDATED

Art by Carl Larsen from his gallery.

Why is it that Christmas, and the lead up to it, is so fraught with stress and panic? Back in my spending days, I use to think that I never had enough time to do everything I needed to do and I’d run around like a headless chook not getting much done at all. When lunch was over on Christmas day, I’d wonder why I got caught up, yet again, in the madness my Christmas had developed into.

Those days are long gone for me, I live at a more gentle pace now and whenever I go out very close to Christmas, I find the pushing and buying quite ugly. It doesn't have to be that way. With a bit of planning we could all celebrate the holidays simply and come out of it strengthened as a family rather than being shattered by it.

We have stopped giving gifts to all but our sons. A few small home made tokens of appreciation go to close friends, but Christmas is pretty much commercial free for us. We still give but we don’t give gifts. Through my voluntary work we organise a Christmas morning breakfast for our community and we cook breakfast for a few hundred people. We have that breakfast in a local park. Last year 450 people came to share the morning with us and we celebrated the morning by being a part of our community.

It’s great to see all walks of life come together in a celebration of Christmas. The town businesses donate most of the food and drinks, and the meal is enjoyed by the homeless, many family groups, and people who are alone at Christmas. We'll be back cooking breakfast for our community again this year and it's something I'm looking forward to. It’s an affirmation of the strength of our community that is remembered well into the year.

What will your Christmas hold this year? If you’ve been troubled with stressed filled holidays, I have a challenge for you. I want you to write a list of three things you usually do at Christmas that you don’t want to do this year. Then I want you to make plans in the coming weeks so that what is on your list is not a part of your Christmas. It’s a small step, but it might just be the catalyst you need to get yourself and your family to a truly happy and enriching Christmas.

ADDIT: I have two blogs I'd like to recommend to you. First is Renee and Marc's great blog, Garden Desk. They're building a polytunnel greenhouse to extend their growing period. It's really worth a visit to check it out. The other is a craft blog full of lovely work. It's Knot Garden, where you'll find some beautiful crochet and sewing. Happy reading.

Deborah has just sent this useful link about breaking the cycle of gift buying. Thanks Deborah!

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