Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year. The malls are buzzing, the decorations are happy, and joy is the prevalent emotion. … At least, it should be. This year is the first year that I have ever experienced any sort of stress that was caused by the holidays.

Last weekend I went to Target for a few things. I rushed my way through, and settled on things that were similar to what I wanted, but not quite right. I stood in line only to realize that one of the items I wanted to purchase was damaged. Then I had to go pick it up again and get back in line. I decided to just save money that day and go home. On my way to my car, I was honked at and nearly hit because I apparently wasn’t moving fast enough. I went home grumpy and stressed. I sat on my bed and wondered how I let myself get so grinchy during my favorite time of year.

Christmas should not equal stress. This year my funds are more limited than in recent years, my schedule is much busier, and my job is stressing me out beyond belief already. I am trying to find the “perfect gift” for everyone on my list, and then I remember someone else I need to buy for, and the stress continues. I have been going shopping on my lunch hour, it is too rushed and too crowded, but if I go on the weekend, it will be even worse.
While I was in the line at the drive-through Starbucks, I bought someone’s drink for them. Someone did that for me once and it was one of the kindest, most simple gestures that had ever happened to me, so I always try to pass it on. I keep trying to remind myself of what that moment feels like, and the look on the barista’s face when I said I wanted to buy a stranger’s coffee. That’s what Christmas should be about.

It’s about the look on someone’s face when your gift means more to them than you thought. It’s about the excitement you felt as a kid on Christmas morning, just waiting to see what goodies Santa brought you. It’s about spending time with your loved ones, and looking around and feeling so grateful for the people and the things in your life. These are the things I’m trying to remind myself as I check another item off my list, or rush off to another party. This special time only happens once a year, so why do we stress ourselves out about it so much? If your gift isn’t perfect, do you really think it will mean less to someone? If the turkey (or ham, or prime rib) isn’t as tender or delicious as you intended, will you remember this year as the ruined Christmas? If the lights are pink instead of red, will people think your decorations are tacky? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you might want to consider re-evaluating your priorities.

I am going to try to change my perspective on what this time of year should be like. I don’t want to waste it by rushing through and turning into a Grinch! I wish you all a happy holiday, whatever that holiday may be. I cannot wait until Christmas 🙂


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