When I was asked to write an article about the stress of Christmas shopping and the busy holiday season in general my thoughts went back to a different era to my growing up years on a farm in the beautiful and peaceful Shenandoah Valley in the State of Virginia. My father, an architect, and my mother, the quintessential Southern mom provided the foundation for a low stress and deliriously happy Christmas season.

My memories are of apple pie, peach cobbler, Virginia ham, roasted turkey and pheasants dad raised on the farm. It was a hobby for him. I didn’t realize until much later that my mother serving pheasant most Sundays and holidays were not the norm. My childhood was a modern day version of the Walton’s if you remember that old TV series. Strangely enough, The Walton’s was filmed on a mountain near Charlottesville, Virginia where I was born.

The point of all this reminiscing is you may want to think back to a more peaceful time when we actually dressed up to go shopping and courtesy and manners were taken for granted. Christmas was a time for family get together, over eating, homemade eggnog, Christmas caroling and lots of love for all.

Whether your Christmas story is The Night before Christmas or a religious story, it should be told along with any traditions you may conjure for the holidays.

May I also suggest some practical ideas to reduce holiday stress in this bust holiday season such as shopping online if you can? Actually some well-constructed 50’s era toys and other gifts can be found there so order them early. Look for those out of the way shops that been around for many years. I found a family pickle company in New York than has been making pickles for over a hundred years or family businesses that have been specializing in certain items for decades.

Also consider shopping in off hours, at nights or early in the morning to avoid fatigue and stress and large crowds. Where there are large crowds of people there are colds and flu and other ailments. Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your mouth or eyes.

Take your multivitamins and minerals to build the immune system and help you reduce holiday stress. Take extra vitamin C and other anti-oxidants and try to get plenty of sleep despite the busy holidays. Remember your brain resets itself during the sleep cycle.

May I suggest you make your New Year resolutions now and not wait until guilt overwhelms you? You will be a month or two ahead of your friends and already have the experience of one Christmas season. Toss around the idea of shopping for simplicity and quality and not to overspend out of guilt and TV advertising. Can you make something, cook something, and sew something for some one? Can you visit someone, rake leaves or invite a lonely person to your home for dinner?

My personal advice to my kids is to text less and visits more. Don’t message them but talk to them directly and learn the art of conversation and looking people in the eyes. Learn to slow down and write letters. Buy books. Give yourself permission to rest. Maybe you need to stop during this hectic holiday and give yourself the gift of a massage or a hot Epsom salt bath and recharge your batteries.

If we take care of ourselves then we can take care of others! Remember, it’s the holidays, the most wonderful time of the year, enjoy them.

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