Hi everyone! We’re halfway through Hanukkah, and slowly getting closer to Christmas. The holidays are officially here and you see proof of this everywhere you look, including social media. I’ve been reading lots of “How to get through the holidays” posts (and wrote one myself) and was starting to feel the stress of Christmas weighing down on me for one of the first times ever. In fact, I was recently teaching and mentioned that this time of year can be stressful for a lot of people so we should all make an effort to be kind to one another. One of my students said “Why is everyone telling me the holidays are stressful? They’re fun!”. I realized that he was completely right – why is it that I’m getting the messaging that the holidays need to be stressful? I LOVE the holiday season, so why am I letting the media and the vibe of so many well-meaning bloggers get to me? Are we actually making the holidays more stressful by focusing on how “stressful” they are – like in mile 8 of a half marathon where your brain starts telling you to slow down because you’re dying, even when you’re fine?
Or is it?
So let’s get one thing straight right away: everyone experiences the holidays differently. For some people, they’re a super fun and exciting time of year. For others, they’re super stressful, filled with drama, and something to be rushed through as soon as possible. I get it! There’s lots of things to do and you feel like you’re not able to get any time to yourself. And I don’t want to discredit the experiences of anyone who is going through a tough time, dealing with SAD (read my tips for that here), or working through mental illness. But when I think of Christmas and Hanukkah, I don’t think of the word “stressful” right away. I can think of so many other things that describe this season more accurately for me! If I had to sum up the holidays in one word it would be:
Why? Well honestly, Christmas makes me feel like a little kid again. I sometimes resemble Buddy the Elf – an adult who is waaaaaaaay too excited about everything related to Christmas. I remember being a kid and decorating the tree with my family each year, visiting Longwood Gardens to see the millions of lights on display, running through the King of Prussia mall with my sister screaming the words to every Christmas song we could think of, and giving out candy canes to all of the party guests that came to our huge annual Christmas parties. Those experiences have stuck with me throughout the years, and each time I see a small part of those in my current Christmas celebrations I feel like I’m magically transported back in time. As an adult Christmas isn’t all that different – one of the best moments of the year is when we put up our tree, I’m obsessed with giant Christmas light displays, I truly believe that the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear, and I keep a stash of candy canes in my house and in my office. And these are just a few examples of ways that I feel the magic of Christmas. It might sound corny, but I know that every time I geek out over something Christmasy it’s because I’m feeling that magic.
It can definitely be tough being an adult on Christmas, especially in a new town where you have to make new traditions without your family. But we’re trying to do as much as we can to bring that magic here to Anchorage so that I can feel it no matter how far I am from home. And with my husband including me in his Hanukkah celebrations, I get to watch him magically turn into a little kid again when he’s making latkes and lighting the candles. No matter what stressful stuff gets thrown my way in December, I’m more focused on the magic the holidays bring me.
So now it’s your turn: What one word would you use to describe the holidays? And no, you can’t say “stressful”! What is your favorite Christmas tradition that you still do today?