When did holidays become something to be "survived"?

When did the holidays turn from something wonderful and magical to something that is meant to be “survived”?  I remember as a kid seeing the freshly cut Christmas tree lit up and shimmering, playing in the snow, listening to my dad read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, having a big holiday meal… All of that translated into magic for me. 

So how did the holiday season turn into the most stressful time of year (aside from tax season)?

I blame Martha Stewart.  Don’t get me wrong, I think all the little crafts and special touches she does to create the perfect holiday are wonderful.  It’s just that I don’t have time or energy to be perfect.  It’s the expectations that stress us out.

Another stressor is gifting.  Most holiday traditions involve gift giving, which is a wonderful thing.  The problem comes when there is an expectation of bigger, better and more expensive gifts every year. Or buying gifts for people who don’t want or need anything but you still feel obligated to get them a gift or risk hurting their feelings.  As a teenager I worked in a mall and I recall overhearing someone say “I don’t care if she likes it, I just have to buy something”.  Ugh.  Again, expectations get in the way of us truly enjoying ourselves.

This year, see if you can let expectations go completely.  Pick just one thing and focus on making that special for you.  This year, I am going to plan a nice meal for just my family and we’ll all cook together.  No china for the table, no fancy dishes.  Just a nice meal. 

Let the expectations go and give yourself permission to enjoy the holidays in whatever way works for you!