Even those who love Christmas, sometimes need to have ways to reduce the stress even if they can’t avoid it altogether. One way to do that is to extend the holiday. Traditionally, Christmas didn’t actually start until Christmas Eve. But advertisers have begun their commercials as early as Halloween. Many people have their Christmas trees up by mid-November. Lights on houses, Christmas music in the stores, all start long before even the church observance of Advent begins.
Advent Leads Gently into Christmas
Playing Christmas music in your home before it’s even December might actually add to the stress. The religious season of Advent is more subdued than the feverish anticipation of Santa Claus’s visit. An Advent calendar counts the days to the Birth of Jesus, some with secular notes and candies, others with Bible quotes. Either way, it’s a gentler easing into the holiday than the commercial frenzy. As for the music, let it wait until December has started.
Twelve Days of Christmas
If you love Christmas, you may want to extend the holiday past the Big Day that everyone tells you is the Deadline. The traditional Christmas began with Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, and festivities continued until Epiphany on January 6th, the day the Magi brought their gifts to the Baby Jesus. That means, instead of stressing to beat the December 25th date, you can relax and have a full two weeks of grace after the Big Day. How you celebrate those twelve days is up to you. You can research the traditions around the world, or you can invent your own. If you love Christmas carols, there is no law that says you can’t continue to sing them all year, or at least until January 6th, Epiphany.
What’s the Problem with Christmas?
Different people may cite any number of problems with Christmas. It could be difficulty with certain family members that you can avoid all year, but feel obliged to see at Christmas. It could be that you feel obliged also to do a lot of baking and decorating that lay burdens on you that seem overwhelming. It doesn’t matter if you are a great cook or have fabulous talents for decorating. Christmas brings out the perfectionist in most of us, to the extent that if we can’t produce the ideal meal or perfect tree, then the world will come to an end. Nonsense, you say. Yes, but many are still affected by this notion. Then, there is the expense.
What can be Done to Alleviate These Stressors?
To begin with, not everything can be totally avoided. It has been said, though, that when everything else is beyond your control, you can always control your attitude. So, what to do about those difficult relatives? Each family will have its unique problem and its unique solution. One problem that is common to many families, however, is where to celebrate the Day. Newly married couples often have to work out how to accommodate both sides of the family without hurting anyone’s feelings. This gets more complicated when the couple have children and want to celebrate at home and build their own traditions. What to do? Go to family A this year and family B next year? Does this mean you have your own Christmas only once every three years?
One Solution is to Offer Alternatives
In many families, Thanksgiving is as big a day as Christmas. If this is so, then that is an easy option to offer one set of in-laws instead of Christmas. A third option is to begin a tradition of celebrating Epiphany.
How Epiphany Can Relieve Christmas Stress
By celebrating Epiphany, you offer your family an alternative to Christmas Day. This can be an equally good opportunity for family get-togethers, gift-giving, and feasting together. It can be done the same way as you celebrate Christmas, or in your own unique innovative way.
It has other advantages, too. It gives you more time to prepare and to shop or bake or do whatever you feel you want to do. But, because there aren’t any prescribed traditional foods, you don’t have to bake or buy what you don’t want to. It’s completely up to you. There are plenty of suggestions on the internet, if you choose to look for ideas.
Shopping for Epiphany gifts is cheaper than shopping for Christmas gifts. You get to take advantage of all those post-Christmas sales.
Love it or not, Christmas doesn’t have to leave you frazzled and broke. Stretch it out or leave it out, but by all means enjoy the best of the season.