We all know that Christmas depresses people. The holiday season, despite its outwardly festive trappings, represents a difficult time for many people. For some, it's financially stressful, overly busy, fraught with family drama, and designed to make us feel like parenting failures. For some, it's even worse: it's lonely.
I will admit to having been a pretty staunch Christmas curmudgeon in the past. When I was single I was broke, and though I had a lovely family to spend time with, I was always a little behind the curve in Christmas spirit. Since I got married and had a child, it's admittedly more fun. Christmas is awesome for 3 year olds, and I am living vicariously through him. Still, there is a lot about the holidays that makes me itch. The pressure to be at the right place at the right time, to make sure all the parts of the family get their equal due, the work involved with shopping, wrapping, making presents, cooking meals, and making the house look "just so" is enough to send a person over the edge. But, I am nothing if not a traditionalist, so I go about all the business of holiday-making - even this year, 9 months pregnant - we did the whole shebang.
Recently I spoke to a group of Lawrence professional women about tips for surviving the holidays. My two bits of advice, for what they are worth, were these: 1) Step away from Pinterest. Pinterest is designed to make women feel bad about themselves. STOP THAT.
2) Pick your battles. I am not crafty. I do like to cook. So, my efforts at Christmas time lean toward the culinary. I do not pretend to want to knit hand-made gifts or make homemade candles for everyone on my list. I do, however, can jellies and sauces for friends and co-workers. Not so much because I am crazy, but because I enjoy it. I hate to shop, so I buy everything that has to be bought online. But if you love shopping, get out there on Black Friday and do your thing. If you can sew, and find it theraputic, by all means, embroider a tea towel for every person you know.
In short, do the parts of the holiday crazy that you LIKE, and let the rest go hang.
That said, the one part of the holiday season I do recommend for everyone, regardless of time or talent, is a little giving back. This is not a new concept or a complicated one. The absolute best part of this holiday season, for me, was shopping for Angel tree kids, helping get all of our families adopted at Ballard Center, and watching the looks on the faces of those who otherwise would have had a dismal holiday light up, knowing their community cared for them. If you don't have money to give to holiday efforts, that's okay. Invite the lonely neighbor man over for Christmas dinner. Send a letter to a soldier. Serve a meal at a soup kitchen. I know that I am a very lucky woman, this holiday, with a stack of presents under the tree, a baby on the way, and a family to enjoy it all with. I cannot take it all for granted, not even for a second.
Enjoy your holiday. Don't forget to relax a little, and send a box of cookies (even if they are store-bought) to someone who might need reminding that someone cares on Christmas.