The holidays can be a beautiful or a stressful time and sometimes, it can be both. I was talking with my daughter-in-law about all the stress she was experiencing because time was running out and she had more to accomplish before Christmas than time to accomplish it in. This reminded me of a Christmas when I was feeling the exact same way and my sons were teenagers. I remember sitting them down and saying, “Look, there are so many things I want to do before Christmas and I don’t have enough time to do it all. So I either need you to help me or tell me what you don’t care about that I can cut out.” They both indicated they didn’t really want to “help” so I asked them what from this list could be eliminated: putting up the tree, sending Christmas cards, baking five kinds of cookies, and wrapping gifts. They both told me they didn’t care about having a tree or sending Christmas cards. Of course, I wanted to send the cards because it is important to me to maintain contact with friends and family at Christmas. They also told me they like chocolate chip cookies best so I didn’t have to make four other kinds. And finally, they told me they didn’t care about their presents being wrapped as long as they had presents. While it seemed odd, it was wonderful not wrapping, not decorating and not baking a bunch of cookies. It was enough to eliminate the stress and allow me to have the kind of Christmas I wanted to have.

What I want more than giving presents at Christmas is giving my presence. I want to be present with my children and now my grandchildren and adding extra, unnecessary stress around the holidays detracts from my ability to do so. Identify what’s most important to you and those you love and let the rest of the minutia go. You will be happy you do and your family will be too. No one wants you stressed and miserable. What will you do to eliminate your unnecessary holiday stress?

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