Don’t try to make holidays perfect

December 13, 2005 — Leave a comment

Salt Lake Tribune

Holidays: Do you adore or abhor them?

The holidays. The time for overabundant joy; overabundant everything. From overeating to overspending, this time of year brings with it the temptation to overindulge, period.

A recent poll by the American Psychological Association shows that 61 percent of Americans cite lack of money as the top cause of holiday stress, followed by the increased pressures of gift giving, lack of time, and credit card debt.

Sadly, the rates of deaths from suicide and drug overdoses also rise significantly during this time of year. The stress can send even the most stable of us teetering on the edge of sanity. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. Let’s declare war on holiday stress. The culprit? Perfectionism. Perfectionism gets in the way of a perfectly good Christmas, a perfectly good marriage, a perfectly good life, a perfectly good house, a perfectly good job . . . well, you get the picture.

The perfect Christmas present: Get a grip if you keep coming up empty-handed in your search for the perfect gift for that someone special. If it’s that hard to come up with something, chances are the perfect gift doesn’t exist so give it up. A gift certificate is always welcome, especially when it comes attached with your offer to accompany the shopper to the mall. Make a plan for a fun-filled day, and throw in lunch while you’re at it.

The perfect party: Right along with the shrimp cocktail and sparkling cider, chill! As a hostess, if you’re stressed, everyone else will be, too. Give the gift of a comfortable atmosphere and fabulous food. By the way, delectable edibles don’t have to be home-made. Some delicious entrees can be made in someone else’s kitchen, like the neighborhood deli, for just a few extra pennies.

The perfect family celebration: I know your family traditions are important . . . but every year? Have a family pow-wow and decide what’s doable and what isn’t. Honor only those favorite activities you just can’t live without this Christmas season. Leave the other traditions for next year . . . it’ll give your family something to look forward to for the next 365 days!

The perfect decorations: Going for a Griswold house? If you can’t remember what happened to this funny family, rent “Christmas Vacation” and it’ll all become crystal-clear. Yule crack up. Forget trying to keep up with the neighbors. Enjoy their outdoor light display instead. As a mater of fact, invite the neighbors over to your place so they can enjoy their own lights. After all, you’re the one with the view.

The perfect day: As a family, decide ahead of time how you will spend the day and spread your celebration over several days. If you have too many places to be with too little time, that’s overkill.

Move your plans around a bit and extend the holiday cheer.

The perfect relationship: Now there’s an oxymoron for sure. If you find that you’re all alone this Christmas, find others with whom to celebrate. Focus on making someone else’s life worth living.

Now, that would be perfect.

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Dr. Liz Hale

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