Single Steps Strategies Blog

Reducing Holiday Stress

By Lisa Purk, Business Mentor and Program Director with Paramount Co-Op

As I was growing up, our family always put the Christmas tree up a week before Christmas.  We didn’t put it up earlier and we didn’t put it up later.  On the other hand, our neighbors ALWAYS put their tree up on Christmas Eve.  My husband holds this same Christmas Eve tree trimming memory from his childhood.  I have also met people who are definite Thanksgiving weekend tree-trimmers.
Christmas traditions can cause us to recall joyful memories of the past and create exciting anticipation of upcoming holiday celebrations.  Unfortunately, Christmas traditions sometimes bring unnecessary stress into our lives. 
Oftentimes, we hold our family traditions as beliefs about right and wrong.  For example, there can be a belief about the “right” time to put up the tree and any sooner is “too early” and later is, well “too late.”  Many holiday traditions become strongly held “beliefs;” a few examples include:

  • How many lights and what color
  • Types, color and number of ornaments
  • Icicles or tinsel….Star or angel….
  • Real tree or artificial
  • Ham or turkey for dinner; or (gasp) something else
  • Big dinner on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day …. or both
  • Number of gifts and who gets them

These are some of the traditions we have around the holidays and we have our reasons why we believe these things. Perhaps they hold sentimental attachments and fond memories.  We may want to continue certain ways of doing things or honor a loved one in a special way.  Or, we may want to provide the same joyful holiday experience for someone else that we hold in our memory. 

These traditions can become a source of stress when we hold to them as “right” or “wrong” and someone else holds different beliefs.  Two (or more) people all holding their own sentimental attachments, fond memories and family ways of doing things and each wanting to do things “their way.”
What do you do?
When something about Christmas is creating turmoil rather than joy, stop and ask yourself,
“Is this worth spoiling the joy of this moment or this holiday season?”
“What is my goal?”  Joy; peace; laughter; fond memories ….. or turmoil?

Consider some of the following suggestions or create your own solutions:
Stay open to new ideas.

Let go of “right” and “wrong”
          Who said Thanksgiving weekend was “too early?”
          Who said Christmas Eve is “just right” or “too late?”

Communicate:  Determine what is most important to you and what is most important to other family members and honor both

Find compromises, for example:
          Alternate years for artificial vs real tree
          Alternate years for serving preferred holiday foods; Or…..find new favorites

Create new traditions using a combination of two favorites or something that is all new 

Do your Christmas traditions encourage the peace and joy of the holiday?  Do they create wonderful memories for everyone?

The choice is yours.

 May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace,
May the gladness of Christmas give you hope,
The warmth of Christmas grant you love.
~Author Unknown

Lisa Purk is a Business Mentor and Program Director with Paramount Co-Op, a business incubator helping entrepreneurs start and grow their business.  She combines her many years of experience as a Life Coach and Business Owner in a unique and empowering role in the lives of new entrepreneurs.  Paramount Co-op strives to insure inclusivity in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Western Pennsylvania and works diligently to break barriers to entrepreneurship.