Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Seasonal Stress Busting: Visioning a meaningful Christmas

Walk down any street here in Oklahoma and you will notice that many trees still have their leaves, lawns are green, and some days it’s even warm enough to leave your jacket at home.  But walk into any local retail store, and Shazaam- its Christmas! 
If the countdown makes you sweat you might need to readjust your approach to the Holiday.

First take a moment to visualize your ideal Christmas. 
  • Where are you? 
  • What are you doing?
  • Who are you with? 
  • What is your overall mood?

If you are like most people your fantasy Christmas involves a clean house with a fire burning, the special people in your life gathered laughing with a joyful heart, and you are the picture of contented calm.  At a recent seminar for the Edmond Chamber of Commerce a participant shared that in her fantasy she was in Hawaii with her immediate family and someone was cooking for them.  She won’t really be in Hawaii this Christmas.  In a past workshop a woman laughingly shared that every year she pictured her family singing Christmas Carols around the piano.  She realized that might be a problem since she doesn't own a piano and no one in her family knows how to play (or sing for that matter).

So what fuels these fantasy holidays?  Messages are delivered directly to your mailbox, inbox, and living room every day in the form of advertising.  We are shown image after image of stylish homes with a roaring fireplace and happy families.  We are sold on perfection, and for most people the reality is far from the fantasy.  Let’s stop the subliminal competition to make this year the BEST for our family (including mom) and reset our intentions to make it meaningful. 

Now pause for a moment and consider past Christmases. 
What made your heart sing? What was a special memory? 

  • Time with family and friends?  
  • The meal or the gift exchange?
  • Volunteering? 
  • Increased spirituality or religious participation?
THAT is your new focus.

In the upcoming weeks we will develop your realistic holiday vision into an action plan that less about the stress, and more about what you REALLY want for Christmas.


  1. Lisa, this is a great post. One of my family's best traditions is our own "service" always done before gift opening. Traditionally, my dad and brother read the Christmas story from Luke, and the rest of us read something or sing something or play something on an instrument. One family member is declared non-religious, but that doesn't prevent him from enjoying the service. It gives us a few moments to listen and appreciate the holidays and each other.

    1. Thank you for sharing such a special memory with us Stephanie- it made my heart sing too!

  2. My favorite Christmas memories involve me holed up in my house blasting Chistmas tunes, baking, and decorating the house. I am such a HERMIT. But family can be so stressful during the holidays. (Which is why we're doing Christmas on our own this year.) Anyway, for this Christmas I am making a list of Christmas-themed books that will get me in the mood. Might have to blog about that.

  3. These are great ideas- hope I can help you out with some of that baking, you know, the eating part! I look forward to reading your Christmas-themed book recommendations ;)

  4. The fantasy roaring fireplace scene is a bit hard to let go of - I have an electric space heater with dancing fake flames on the hearth to create the illusion! Love Sonia's book idea. Familiar with David Baldacci's "The Christmas Train"?

    I'm with you on de-stressing the holidays, Lisa - my next week's post is on that very topic. I look forward to seeing more tips in your upcoming posts.

    1. Looking forward to your post, it sounds like you have figured out a realistic fireplace plan- now onto the rest of the holiday!

  5. I caught myself already getting grumpy about the holidays this morning. Full disclosure: I claim to hate Christmas, mainly because I hate the logistical nightmare that it has become. (Am I really supposed to buy that many gifts and not go bankrupt as well as visit all the necessary family members in one day? I'm not Santa Claus, for crying out loud!)

    You're right about the subliminal competition. My family is NEVER going to be on a Hallmark card. I need to stop obsessing over the perfect Christmas, because my favorite holiday memory is the year that the Christmas tree fell over and the oven caught on fire. Disasters make for the best photos and stories.

    1. Now that my kids are grown I am most fond of the "throw away" shots that we took trying to find the Norman Rockwell Christmas card photo! The ones where they are looking in different directions, making faces at the camera or each other, and crying because I made them try try again to look at me joyfully. I know, it sounds like mommy dearest- glad I didn't throw any of them away!