Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Maintaining Sanity as We Enter the Holiday Season

The month of December is upon us. Though we in Canada make much of the Christmas season, this month of December is a festive time for people of many beliefs, and even for those who don’t adhere to any religion at all.

For those celebrating holidays over the coming weeks, there can be pressure to host the perfect family gathering, or to purchase just the right gifts to bring smiles to the faces of family members. While such pressures might be minor in nature, they can build on one another, frazzling nerves and spoiling what should be a festive time.

The pressures of the season are not just for those busy organizing family gatherings. For some, this is an extremely lonely time of the year. Those without family members to gather with can find themselves on the outside looking in at what can feel like the perfect lives of others as they gather, and hug, and smile during this festive time.

December is a complicated and frustrating month for many, and it can be easy to let the stress of the season boil over into frustration and despair. At this time of year it can be worthwhile to remind everyone that perspective is everything. While some of us might be stressed due to lengthy gift shopping lists, folks in Ukraine are just hoping to have some electricity and heat in their homes as war rages on all around them. While some might be exhausted from battling crowds in stores, and a lengthy search for just the right tree topper, citizens of China are engaged in a rare display of opposition to their government and their hard-line approach to controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.

The holiday season can create a feeling of urgency to get everything done before the magic date of celebration, whatever that might be for you personally, yet there is no need for urgency, there is no need to heap stressors upon ourselves over something as simple and inconsequential in the grand scheme as a holiday. I often think about my friends who celebrate holidays during December and into January, and I worry that they burn themselves out over a short period of time preparing for an event that is supposed to be fun.

During a recent chat with a holiday-celebrating friend who never seems to be stressed leading up to the holidays, I asked how they were able to avoid the stress and insanity of the season, and their answer was simple – stop caring so much, stop striving for perfection.

Simple words that should be simple enough to implement, but we humans are complex beings. My friend told me that their secret to having a fantastic holiday season is to maintain perspective, and to not fall into the traps of finding the perfect gifts or hosting the perfect gathering, but instead to simply be thankful to be in a position to celebrate anything at all, and to recognize that for many around the world there is little to celebrate at this moment in time. So though your tree might not be perfect, or your turkey might not be as large as you had hoped, the very fact that you can gather with friends and family for no reason other than celebration is an enormous gift itself.

This weekend the holiday season in Meaford will officially launch with the inaugural Christmas on the Bay event, which will span four days from December 1 through December 4. That event will offer up many shopping opportunities along with a number of events. One of the highly anticipated events happening in the midst of the Christmas on the Bay event is the arrival of Santa during the Kinsmen Club’s annual Santa Claus parade on Saturday, December 3. As evening approaches on Saturday, Sykes Street will be lined with hundreds of residents young and old eager for the arrival of the jolly man in red.

Don’t let this holiday season steal your sanity. Instead, maintain perspective, and appreciate the simple things that we all enjoy in the relative safety and sanity of Canada. A simple tour around international news websites will reinforce the notion that, no matter how bad things might feel in our own daily lives, or no matter how frazzled we might get when preparing for holiday family gatherings, those are minor issues, mere bumps in the road when compared to what some of our fellow humans are experiencing around the globe as we enter what we consider to be the holiday season.

Whatever you celebrate, or if you celebrate nothing at all, I hope the coming weeks are filled with joy, relaxation, and are absent of stress and frustration. We are among the wealthiest and safest people on the planet, something for which we should all be thankful, holiday season or not.


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