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What You Can Do Now to Decrease Holiday Stress Later

I miss fall.

I want to be crunching through oak leaves, wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. I want to watch football and pick apples. I want to lean close to a campfire, eager for the warmth, without the mosquitoes.

But I am far from fall.

Here in the southern hemisphere, spring is just springing. Our home in South Africa is turning green, mulberries droop on the tree outside, and the kids are on spring break this week.

Thinking of fall and our home in the U.S., I get a bit stressed. See, this time of year, when in the States, I start to feel my stress rising as the end of the year holidays approach. It makes me grimace a bit.

– Remembering to get gifts for people.
– Planning extended family gatherings.
– Maintaining traditions (“Where’s that Elf DVD?”).
– Trying to actually be thankful and remember Jesus was born.
– Giving to things you care about before the end of the year.
– Baking. So much baking.

So I would like to give a gift (in October!) to my North American friends: take an hour and do a bit of planning for the next 11 1/2 weeks.

When Chrissy and I look ahead and talk through what’s important in the coming weeks and months, we do more of what we want to do, focus on what is important, are more relaxed, and are kinder to each other.

– What is it important for you to do?
– When are you going to do it?
– What is it important for you to not do?
– Who do you need to make plans with?
– What can you take care of now? (Stores are not as busy in October as they are in December!)
– Which traditions will you maintain? Which will you skip? Which will you start?

It’s a small thing, but a bit of time now can make a big difference later.

How do you maintain some order and peace in the crush of end-of-year activities?