The holidays are looked upon as family time. Advertisements, T.V. movies, pop culture and our own communities – such as in south Charlotte – reinforce the concept that happy holidays are spent around a gorgeous dining table with all the trimmings and the homes abundant with gifts and decorations.

The holidays can be a wonderful time of connecting with those we love, enjoying traditions passed down and getting hyped up on giving and receiving presents.

But it can take a ton of work to pull all of that off.

“We don’t have to continue holiday traditions that leave us broke, overwhelmed and tired”.

I love this quote by Joshua Becher. It can be be applied to so many aspects of the holiday madness. Not just the shopping but the enormous Christmas dinner that keeps us stuck in the kitchen for much of the day. In fact, just the other day on Thanksgiving our family felt pulled in a couple different directions. We had plans to do a turkey trot; a tradition we’ve enjoyed the last few years. My mother wanted to join us but felt stuck in the kitchen overseeing the turkey in the oven and missed out on good family fun despite cooking a delicious meal that we all enjoyed.

The brunt of the holiday work and worry in many families often falls dis proportionally on women’s’ shoulders. Balancing work, family and holiday planning – all the complex details of shopping, cooking, outings and travel – is a major challenge! Not to mention the normal household chores of and endless lunches and dinners that need to be made. It does not leave us feeling empowered.

Let’s consider the financial aspect. Did you know that 24% of Millennials are still paying off credit card debt incurred during the last holiday season? This fact comes from the 2017 Consumer Holiday Shopping Report. The number is slightly lower for Gen Xer’s  at 16 percent and Boomers at 8%. Despite this lingering debt many Millennials will join the hordes of shoppers over the coming weeks in order to ensure there are are gifts under the tree for friends and family.

What’s more? Apparently they don’t even like it that much! A report by the Pew Research Center lists the top three things that tomorrow Americans dislike about the holiday season all three related to purchases: consumerism, financial worry and stressful crowds. The study indicated a measly 1 percent said shopping is their favorite thing about the holidays.

So why do we do it?

Why do we continue this cycle that stresses us out and creates more debt than we can afford to pay off in a sensible amount of time?

A big reason for the problem is due to our attachment to what we perceive as tradition is actually more of a habit.

As writer Becker explains, “Traditions help us celebrate and honor recurring events in our lives. Whether we are setting aside a day of gratitude or setting aside an entire season to celebrate faith, family or both, traditions should draw our attention to the underlying reason for the season. Traditions should not detract from the season, it should elevate it”.

With that in mind here are 5 essential aspects to moving yourself from frazzled and overwhelmed to a sense of purposeful joy.

Do something everyday that brings you joy- and take every opportunity to laugh.

  1. Prioritize – then be okay with letting what’s not at the top of the priority list fade into the background.
  2. Find a quiet place, go there daily, and just breathe.
  3. Connect with family members and lean on them as much as possible.
  4. Remember, you are precious. Your very presence here in the midst of your family, co-workers, friends and community makes the world a better place, even on the really tough days.

As we look ahead to the next few weeks, it’s okay to reexamine your families holiday traditions, choosing which to keep and foster and which to get rid of – or perhaps do less frequently. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing, especially if it’s getting you into debt or creating any level of anxiety in your life.

Keep what brings you joy and do what serves you and your family. If you find family get together’s to be toxic and overwhelming, call now for a free consultation to helping those gatherings feel manageable.