I will admit that growing up I loved the holiday season. I can’t quite put my finger on what it was but from mid November through New Year’s Eve was always my favorite time of the year. In fact, as an adult nearing 30 years old it still is. I never feel stressed during the holiday season and for a long time I could not understand people who said that they were. As an adult I am getting a better understanding on this “holiday stress” that appears to effect so many people.
I am going to venture to say that I handle stress well on most days and I tend to invite quite a bit into my life. Blame it on a crazy family growing up or some innate ability that I was born with to handles stress well, who knows? The difference between the holidays and taking on a new volunteer public policy project for my professional organization for me is pressure. Pressure to perform and do what you have set out to do…and do it well. This is where I believe the “holiday stress” comes from.
As a child, there was no pressure on me to do anything except enjoy the perks of the holidays. Growing up we had our family traditions and traditional meals (mainly passed down from grandparents) and growing up in a small town where snow during winter is common made it all the more Norman Rockwell-ish. We did the big Thanksgiving dinner at my grandparent’s house where grandma did the Turkey and her famous cranberry salad and my aunt contributed the home made perogis while my uncle and grandfather smoked the kielbasa made by a local market. There was pie and cookies and football and eating until you were stuffed.
Christmas is my favorite holiday hands down. From the Christmas tree hunt in the lots of Pennsylvania to the decorations of lights that brightened the houses along the streets and the smell (and taste) of cookies baked by grandma. Christmas Eve was our big celebration with another big dinner of Polish/Hungarian food and exchanging of presents. As a child my favorite part was Christmas day, where my folks would have breakfast for relatives at our house so that my brother and I could open gifts from “Santa Claus.” From the music to the movies this is my favorite time of the year.
In recent years I have moved away from Pennsylvania and many family members have either passed away or also moved away. I have friends who have their traditions and will sometimes invite me to join it…but I have had to change how I spend the holidays and what I consider my family. So as this childfree holiday draws near this year, I am more determined than ever to continue to enjoy the season with no stress. I have no one to perform for and no one to let down. I have no expectations for the upcoming months and no reason to fret about having enough money for all the activities that I must do and gifts that I must give “for the children”. I have my holidays to enjoy and to do whatever I want to. I can plan to do the traditional stuff, volunteer my time or sleep in and eat out. I can call my family my friends, my fellow “family-less” volunteer buddies and my pets and significant other. So this year my focus is to continue to enjoy my holidays without a central focus or goal, other than to be free of both children and stress.