We live in lovely Muskoka and are blessed to experience the “White Christmas” that is part of the idyllic image of the holiday season held by many of us who live in Canada. But even the reality of snow through the holidays can add a layer of stress to the already stressful holiday season. No matter what holiday you celebrate this season, from decorating your Muskoka Home to preparing and serving the many snacks and meals, the holidays are often more of a marathon than a break!
Our traditions are a powerful force that sometimes pull us and our unsuspecting families along in their wake. Do your holiday traditions serve your family, your values and your spiritual beliefs; or are you running a tired and joyless circle each holiday season in the name of tradition?
Perhaps it is time to give your holiday traditions a complete review so you can reduce stress during the season. After all, time with friends and family is precious and it should be special for all of you. Give some thought to your family’s holiday traditions before the season is full upon you.
Here are some tips that may help:
1. Be honest with yourself. Re-run last season’s holiday through your mind and try to remember which activities were most enjoyed, most meaningful and which caused dissention, stress or aggravation. Then consider eliminating the less pleasant activities. It’s OK to do less and enjoy it more!
2. You may find that you’ve outgrown some traditions and they could be replaced with new ones. Some young married couples with their first child can manage to visit both sets of parents on Christmas Day, but that tradition becomes a bigger challenge once a second child enters the family. Time to end it when little ones are frazzled and cross with too many long dinners in scratchy dress-up clothing. It may be hard on the grandparents but sooner or later you will want to start your own traditions. Maybe Nana and Grandpa can come to you!
3. Simplify those traditions that are important and that you want to keep. For instance perhaps you always made a gingerbread house early in December. But when you think about last year you remember that your teenagers were bored with the whole thing, and if you are working full-time you may not be able to do it all. Consider trading the gingerbread house for some simple sugar cookies (homemade or in a tube from the dairy section at the store). The kids or grandkids can have fun decorating these and it’s a quicker and simpler thing to organize. What’s more, they will get eaten and enjoyed while that gingerbread house usually just got dusty! You’ve kept the fun, but freed yourself from the chore.
4. Make a new tradition or two. Consider promoting some pleasurable family activities to the status of tradition. How do you create a tradition? Simple. You do it every year, you do it together, and you all have fun. Don’t pick up a magazine and read about some other family’s tradition and try to inflict it on your family. It’s much simpler than that, think back to what your family enjoyed in previous Decembers. Did you all giggle at a wonderful movie? Create a new tradition by scheduling a movie night, load up on the snacks and get comfy to watch it again this year.
Remember to keep things simple. There’s no need to spend a lot of money to create a cherished tradition. Have a Crazy Family Dinner ….. each person in the family gets $5.00 to spend on an item at the grocery store and the combined purchases comprise dinner! Hold a Christmas Talent Show …. each family member does something to show off their special talents. Drive out to see the lights and find the most decorated neighborhood in Muskoka. Volunteer as a family at the Food Bank. Invite neighbours for punch and munchies. Whatever you do, keep it stress free and allow yourself to
have a special Muskoka Holiday Season.
If you do it every year, you do it all together, and you all enjoy it, it’s a tradition!