The Christmas Chaos has begun. For several weeks now, the list of tasks, chores and to-do’s has been quietly accumulating. The big, stressful finish is just 12 days away! Am I smiling and singing all of my favorite Christmas carols? No.
Instead, the holiday stress brought Scrooge out of his lair. While embarrassing to admit – I was more excited about the end of the holiday season than I was for the holiday itself. Sad but true. What happened next surprised me.
While I write about it frequently, I experienced firsthand how a change in perspective creates a different reality.
Let me explain…
This weekend, I attended the funeral of a beloved family member. He was the patriarch; the oldest living member of the family. 97 years of age and he played poker and drank a beer with his friends just a month ago! Don’t get me wrong – I felt sadness and loss. However, sometimes it takes death to stimulate life.
Sitting in a room filled with multiple generations of family, we watched 97 years of living reflected through a 36-minute Powerpoint slideshow. Were there tears in the room – yes. However, there was far more laughter, smiles and stories as picture after picture slid by. This is an example of how a change in perspective transformed grief into a positive experience. The sadness of a funeral was changed to a vibrant celebration of life!
With this experience fresh in my mind, I vowed to look at holiday stress differently. My tasks, to-do’s or expectations are not going away. There is a lot to do in the next couple of weeks. However, I’ll change the perspective through which I view them.
Here is how I am going to do it. If you are feeling the stress and strain more than the bells and bliss – I challenge you to try it with me.
The Simple Cure to Holiday Stress:
Reframe all of your tasks, to-do’s and chores into one of three categories. These categories are what matters during the holidays. As such, these are the three things I am going to accomplish this Christmas. They are:
- Make memories for the younger generation
- Express love for the current generation
- Display gratitude to the senior generation
Use these three as perspective filters. Look at your holiday stress from these perspectives and see how quickly the stress takes on a new look and feel. Let’s elaborate each before doing the work.
Make Memories for the Younger Generation: Think about it this way – Imagine it is July of next year and you ask members of the younger generation for their “favorite memory of Christmas.” What do you think they will say? What would you like them to say? What do you need to do, now, to make that happen? How can your list of chores turn into memory making preparations? Hint: It won’t be the “gifts.” It is going to be an experience you helped to create.
Express Love to the Current Generation: It is easy for Brothers, Sisters, Cousins or your Spouse to get lost in the holiday shuffle. Spend time thinking about each. Ask yourself “How can I display my love to them?” It doesn’t need to be a gift. It could be a letter, an old picture – any gesture that clearly communicates I love you and I’m glad you are in my life. Start now – these don’t need to be delivered on Christmas morning.
Display Gratitude for the Senior Generation: All too often, the senior generation gets neglected during the hustle and bustle of the season. Sure, you invite them to dinner to watch Grandkids open presents, but they don’t get much of the hoopla directed at them. Fortunately, they don’t want the fuss or attention. This year – express gratitude. Communicate (in writing, words or pictures) the things for which you are most grateful. Don’t wait for them to be “gone” before appreciating all they did – tell them now.
This simple cure doesn’t remove the effort required this season. Instead, it makes it meaningful work (not busy work). It is work with a high return on investment. For most, that’s work which is rewarding for a long time to come.
Do the Work:
If you are ready to give it a try, create a filter to start. More specifically, sort all of your tasks, gifts, activities and/or meals using these three screens as your sorting filter. Align what you are doing and when you are doing it with one of these. Redefine how you are going to approach it based on the gift it is addressing. When the time comes – have the right mindset and perspective. It will make a huge difference.
|Make Memories||Express Love||Display Gratitude|
|My To Do: I must clean out our dining room of all my work stuff (I use it as an office most of the time). It is a mess and a huge hassle to move around.||My Task: My wife wants to utilize a "today only" sale at Sam's Club. While it is 8:00 p.m., she wants to go and get it (probably an hour of her evening).||My Chore: While late in the game, I need to get pictures and a frame for a special gift for my mother. If I can't get it on Amazon I tend to pout!
|My Perspective Change: |
I'm getting the dining room ready for my daughter's 3rd annual Gingerbread House making party - she loves having her friends over to laugh and craft!
| My Perspective Change: |
I volunteered to go get the gift for her (allowing her to shower and work on Christmas cookies); I buy her some flowers while there to express my love.
|My Perspective Change:
The memories in these pictures will make my Mom smile. I'm displaying gratitude by celebrating our past homes in a display for her.
|Your To Do: |
Your Perspective Change:
|Your Task: |
Your Perspective Change:
Your Perspective Change:
I’m going to use this filter for all of the tasks coming my way in the next 3 weeks. When I start to pout, whine or frown – I’ll deliberately change my perspective and jump in. I plan on experiencing a big difference.
I encourage you (if you have any Scrooge-like tendencies) to do the same.