Holidays: More stressed than blessed?

Tips to help make your holidays memorable but manageable

What a wonderful time of year! Children are excited as they help decorate the tree. Christmas music is played in the stores as shoppers look for that special gift. The aroma of cookies baking fills the air. Church choirs are busy practicing and children are learning their parts for their Christmas programs. Wish lists are written and sent to Santa.

The hustle and bustle of the Christmas season is joyful and exhilarating. But along with the excitement, many experience some anxiety too. There is so much to do. Working people feel especially stressed trying to fit in everything with a limited amount of free time.

Often families face financial difficulties. Holidays can add to the stress of an already tight budget. Some parents worry about affording items on their children’s wish list.

It can be a lonely time of year, especially for the elderly. Friends and relatives may not be nearby. Some receive no invitations and spend Christmas alone.

The loss of a loved one creates feelings of sadness and loneliness. Having an empty chair for Christmas dinner is difficult and can be stressful and depressing.

Family misunderstandings and strained relationships often come to the surface this time of the year. This may cause additional anxiety and stress.

There are things we can do to help decrease the stress we feel, particularly during this time of year.

Here are a few tips on how to reduce the effects of stress: Breathe deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth. Slowly look around you and find 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, 1 emotion you feel. This process is called grounding. It can really help if you feel stress is overcoming you.

As I prepare for the holidays, I have found ways to reduce anxiety. No more stressing over trying to “equalize” gifts. Spending $100 on a gift does not mean everyone needs to have a gift of equal value. There was a time when I added up receipts and made sure everyone received the same dollar amount. Now I simply look for gifts the recipient will enjoy. One year someone’s may cost more, the next year someone else’s might. A gift shouldn’t be about how much it cost. As for me, the only present I want is the presence of my loved ones.

With the price of stamps, the ease of communicating on social media, and the time it takes searching for addresses, I am cutting down on the number of Christmas cards I send. This saves both time and money.

I will not strive for perfection. I have developed a “good enough” outlook. No need to stress to impress. My tree doesn’t have to be perfect; it is my mother’s beautiful old ornaments that will make it special. I will play Christmas music and loudly sing off-key as I decorate.

My Christmas dinner will be plentiful and good, but I plan to keep it simple. Only tried and true recipes, I don’t want to stress over preparing something I haven’t made before.

Christmas should be relaxed and filled with laughter. Have you heard of the Saran wrap game? It’s great fun for kids of all ages. Purchase things you can wrap up with Saran such as candy treats, scratch-off lottery tickets, gift cards, dollar bills or coins, bath bombs, movie passes, etc. Create a large Saran wrap ball, starting with the best prize in the center, perhaps a gift card or a small amount of money. Wrap all the prizes into a ball of Saran. To play, the person who shakes a six first starts unwrapping the ball. The person on the left shakes the dice until they shake a pair and then they continue unwrapping the ball. Everyone keeps the prizes they unwrap. This continues until the entire ball is unwrapped. Making memories…..

This year, like many of you, I will remember those I loved. We have choices as to how we will deal with the loss of loved ones. We can shed tears because they are gone, or smile because they lived. We can pray they will come back, or we can open our eyes and see all they left us. We can let our hearts be empty, or our hearts can be full of the love we shared with them. We can remember only that they are gone, or we can cherish their memory and let it live on.

I will save time to reflect on the “reason for the season.” I particularly enjoy the candlelight service on Christmas Eve. I love singing Silent Night as my hubby reaches over and takes my hand in his.

Do what you can to eliminate some of the stress that comes with this busy time of the year. Enjoy the season everyone!

Question: What was the name of the religious merchandise, gifts and office supplies store located at 124 South Main Street?

Answer: Koepsell Book and Gift Shop

Lorna Marquardt is a former Shawano mayor.