The stress of the holidays: Who needs it?

We’re all busy these days with only a couple of shopping weeks remaining until Christmas. Traffic is horrendous, lines are excruciatingly long, we’re all fighting over the “one remaining toy”. Is this what it’s all about? Really?

Now that my daughter is now about to be twenty-one in January, my life has calmed down somewhat. But I think back on all the holidays that I went absolutely NUTS for this only child, only grandchild, and only great-grandchild.

It began on her first birthday. Because I love to cook, I made this huge spread of food with probably about seven or more hor’dourves, and since I was having a friend make a Minnie Mouse cake, I had to have Mickey too – which allowed her to have her “own cake”. I remember looking in the corner of the living room before the party and seeing a stack of presents and thinking, “What the #$&%.” There was only going to be one friend her age coming, the rest of the participants were Adults.

As the years went by and the holidays and parties continued, they became outlandish. I had to continue to “raise the bar” the following year. I would get so stressed-out over these parties and I admit, I became the “Party Planner Perfectionist.” The question lingered “Was I doing this for her?” or was it something else? Something deeper?

In contemplating this and with much grief and pain, I was made aware of the truth of the situation at hand. The hard fact was that deep down inside was this insecurity on my part and “wanting to be the best, have the best, provide the best” so that others would “see how wonderful I was.”  This was the root issue.

As the years went by and I refused to deal with the issue at hand, more money was spent, all my decorations and presents became outlandish and I continued to stress over having the perfect gift, the most beautiful wrapping, and color coordinated tree, ornaments and gifts. I am reminded of one of the last outrageous birthday bashes for my daughter where we had four ponies and pony rides where one child fell off the horse and we had to take her to the 24 hour emergency care. I believe that was the end of it!

The following birthday I had a small family birthday party with a few people and a cake. My daughter’s response? “That was the best birthday party, EVER.” (out of the mouth of babes)

I’ve since realized that insecurity causes us to do a lot of unnecessary things and stresses us out! Trying to please everyone and being the best at everything is totally unrealistic. What really matters is what are we imparting to others? What quality of life are we bringing by just being there for them? We should be enjoying their company and making memories that will permanently be etched in our brains and bringing change to the lives of those around us.

Now days, people are lucky to get a card from me. And my gift wrapping? Nothing spectacular. How things have changed. I no longer feel this “pressure to perform” because my strength is an inner strength, not coming from something without or something I do.

This year my husband did all the decorating in the house and even the outside for Christmas. How nice was that? What a break for me: totally stress-free!

I encourage you to take a deep breath, this holiday season and beyond! Forget about all those things that you or anyone else will forget in a month, and spend quality time with those you love. Stop trying to be “all things, to all people.”

It doesn’t have to be perfect, nor do you.

About Sue Salach

Sue has a Master's degree in Gerontology and has worked with the elderly and their families for over 30 years and is the Author of "Along Comes Grandpa", a caregiving resource guide, and the novel "If I Walked in Her Shoes". As an ElderCare Expert and Keynote Speaker, Sue employs her comprehensive experience and passion, to educate and promote self-care values to family caregivers and the community at large.
This entry was posted in boomers, caregiving, working caregiver and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The stress of the holidays: Who needs it?

  1. Robin says:

    I found your blog from a link someone Tweeted on Twitter. WOW! Am I glad! I love your blog post and I am now tweeting them like crazy! I love how you are down to earth in your writing. Too many people with blogs just regurgitate old articles in a million different ways. I can tell that your writing is real and from the heart right away. Getting to the nitty gritty and sharing the good, the bad and the ugly is what people need to hear. Not all butterflies and rainbows, ya know? I love this blog and will refer to it often. Thanks again! And nice to meet you. Sent you a request on FB too! 😉
    Robin Donnelly, LPN, DCP


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s