It seems that each holiday season is always more stressful than the previous year. I put too much pressure on myself to make it memorable and better. It wasn't always like that. As a child it was so relaxing because there weren't any expectations. I've been thinking a lot about how to have a stress-free holiday as an adult.
When I think about my ideal celebration, I imagine a Cleaverish celebration. Snow falls softly all day long and a fire crackles by an immaculately decorated tree as my family and friends laugh, listen to Christmas music and sip cider.
But in reality, despite growing up in South Dakota, I don't specifically recall a Christmas with snow. It's not that we never had snow, we did (although there were a few dry Christmases). Snow just wasn't the most memorable part, and we didn't even have a fireplace.
What I do remember is spending a snow-less Christmas in Arizona with my grandparents. (It was my Grandpa Jack's last.) I remember my cousins, brothers and I sorting all of our presents under the tree. (The next day they were mixed together again.)
The perfect Christmas of my daydreams isn't the one my memories are made of; it's something much better. It's memories of my family, and if I remember that, my holidays will be less stressful. It's not about lowering my expectations. It's about realizing what makes me happy, and stress isn't one of those things.
On Wednesday I'll have a more concrete post on how to prepare for the holidays.