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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

De-Stress for the Holidays, Part V

Note: Last year I asked my scrapbooking friends to share how they de-stress during the holidays. The responses were AMAZING. This is the fifth and final "de-stress" email for this season. Isn't it lovely?--Joanna

One of the big things my husband and I had in common was our love for Christmas, and we always always ALWAYS celebrated it in a big way.

Back in the days when my husband was in the military, and we lived in Germany, Christmas was fun, but exhausting. I used to bake 100 dozen cookies (3 batches of 10 kinds) and have anywhere from 12 - 30 guys for Christmas dinner and, the last year we did it, made and filled stockings for all of them.

When we got back to the states, we tried to continue our traditions--the monster tree, the cards, the cookies etc. Then about 10 years ago, when I finally finished a degree while working full time, I took myself and a neighbor to Walt Disney World to celebrate during the first week of December, and told my husband he could make Christmas while I was gone. He did. But there were still a LOT of things left in the trunk. Then it dawned on me - he put out the things that were meaningful to HIM and then he stopped. I added the things that were meaningful to me, and then I stopped. The trunk was still half full. There was a huge lesson in that!
It took me a few more years to back off on the cookies. Year after year on January 2, trays of dried out cookies went in the trash. Now, I've seperated the cookies into holidays - snowballs on valentines, ginger cookies on Thanksgiving, etc. Two kinds per holiday at MOST, and only one batch of each. We still get our favorites once a year, just not all at Christmas.

We've passed out of the acquisition phase of our lives. We want less rather than more, we can afford what we want, and what we want is usually experiences rather than things. Our (adult) kids get money, it's both what they want and need. Extended family get photos, in some form or other -- calendars, scrapbooks etc. That's IT. Presto, no shopping. Very little wrapping. That really takes the stress out of it for me - I'd rather have fish hooks driven under my fingernails than go to the mall!

Traditions that remain -
* A simple, artificial 4 ' diameter wreath lit with a spotlight on the end of the house facing the street.
* A tree - artificial now, with our favorite ornaments over 2 inches (all the tiny ones stay in the trunk)
* Swedish Tea Ring for Christmas breakfast - I bake 2 and give one away.
* We save our Christmas cards and open them all at once on Christmas eve or Christmas morning - it's like a party with all our dearest friends - and much more impactful than if we opened one or two a day.
* A few other 'familyless' folks in for a simple dinner on Christmas day
* Sometime that week, we drive round town and look at the holiday lights.

Done. No stress at all.



Morgan Mandel said...

I've cut down on what I put up for Christmas. I've been bringing items up little by little from the basement, but I don't think everything down there will reach upstairs. I don't relaly need it all anyway. Plus I'm ussing a fiber optic tree because I have no room for a big one any more, not to mention the Rascal dog. She's getting there. Maybe next year she'll be better behaved and I could consider making room for a larger tree again.

Morgan Mandel

Joanna Campbell Slan said...


Our "rascal dog" keeps peeing on the outdoor lights and shorting them out!

Got to love those kids in fur.