A stress-free holiday plan

It’s time to create a stress-free holiday for you and your family with my foolproof holiday survival plan! I first shared this post in 2010, and have now made it my annual Monday-after Thanksgiving gift to you . . .  

Many, many years ago in the wee hours of the morning, after yet another exhausting holiday baking binge, I had a groggy-eyed epiphany: I was ruining my holiday. My husband and two young sons didn’t care if they had dozens and dozens of homemade, hand-twisted candy cane and other complicated cookies, nor did they care if we had the “perfect” tree or artfully wrapped gifts, I did. What they did care about – and I wasn’t giving them – was a well-rested, stress-free, happy wife and mother.

I was the problem. Don’t you hate when that happens?  The good news is: the problems we create – we can fix, and since they are the only ones we really have any control over, they are a great place to put our energy.

After a few hours of sleep (and an attitude adjustment), I came up with a holiday survival plan that was simple and successful; I gathered everyone together and asked the following questions:

What do you need to have the holidays feel wonderful to you?

  1. What cookie do you want?
  2. What food must be served?
  3. What decoration must be displayed?
  4. What activity must be included?

I was shocked when my husband and sons quickly agreed they only wanted chocolate chip cookies – no Christmas cookies? Fortunately, I ignored my born-to-bake Polish upbringing, and my sons and their Dad began a baking tradition that has outlasted high school, college, divorce and grandchildren.

Next, they all agreed that visiting Santa and having lunch downtown was tops for them; I threw in a night-time activity at a nearby park, and our schedule was set. (Church services and Christmas Eve and Christmas Day family gatherings were a given for us.)

Favorite decorations turned out to be things we had made in earlier years. (The tree was another given, but we later simplified decorating it, as well.) The selected dinner dishes were simple to make: my husband and I voted for standing rib-roast and Yorkshire pudding (much easier to make than it sounds), and the boys wanted plain-old mashed potatoes and green bean casserole.

Problem solved – everyone was included, happy and satisfied. Oh, I had my internal struggles about giving up my “perfect” holiday, but one stress-free season made a believer out of me. I quickly realized I was focusing my attention on the people I loved and the things that made each of us happy, which gave me that perfect holiday I had been seeking.

If you would like to create your own satisfying and low-stress holiday zone, here’s how:

  1. Adapt my questions to your needs.
  2. Ask your loved ones.
  3. Do those things and very little else.
  4. Then sit back and enjoy your holiday.

Now wasn’t that easy? Happy Holiday Season!

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