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Managing the Holiday Blues

Bill Derbyshire 

The holiday season is time for relaxing with family and friends, a time to follow family traditions and a time to be thankful for what you have. Unfortunately, all too often families become overwhelmed and stressed during the holiday season.

Several reasons come to mind as to why the holidays can become the "holiday blues," For some families the holidays represent past memories of family gatherings when relationships were strained or when family members have been disrespectful and harmful. In some families parents work too hard to please relatives and friends by sacrificing their relaxing time in order to keep to the schedules of others. In some families the extra expense of purchasing gifts and food creates a financial stress. In many families the holidays bring up memories of those joyous times with family members who have since died, creating feelings of loneliness. It is unfortunate that at a time when families are supposed to relax and enjoy one another it can be so stressful that families forget the meaning of the holiday season.

Let me offer some suggestions on how to manage this stress. Be bold enough to change a holiday tradition if that tradition in the past has created too much stress. If other family members disagree, be clear with them as to why you need to make the change and ask for their support. Donít over-schedule yourself and your family. Think quality of time, not quantity. Your children and spouse will enjoy the time being together. Moderate your use of alcohol. The holiday season can be a very emotional time and over-indulging in alcohol at this time is often a formula for family arguments and conflict.

Be realistic with yourself and loved ones about what you can afford to purchase. Start now to budget for gifts and if you know the budget will not allow you to purchase gifts that children are wanting, begin to talk with them now. Become creative with your gift giving, i.e. making a craft, writing a meaningful message or poem and framing it, spending special time with someone, cooking oneís favorite food and freezing it or a card that lets the person know what you appreciate about them. These gifts truly have more meaning.

Try to integrate your past holiday joys with the present. I am sure the loved ones who are no longer living would want you to create joy with your loved ones who are with you now. Donít let your past replace the present. As some wise person has stated: " What we have today is a gift, thatís why it is called the present."

Remember that the holiday season is a time to let loved ones and others know how much you care and appreciate them. It is not about how many gifts you give or receive.

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