The Holidays: 15 Tips for a Great One

Jeff Herring

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Here's a late-breaking news flash:

Christmas will be celebrated on the 25th of December this year!

Of course it's on December 25th, just like it is each and every year. And yet we act as if it's a surprise each year.

Remember what it was like to be a child during the holidays:

The anticipation.

The excitement.

The feeling that the big day was never going to get here.

Consider what it's like to be an adult during the holidays:

Frantically running around, trying to get everything done.

Trying to live up to all the expectations and obligations.

The feeling that we just don't have enough time.

Exhaustion, crowds, stress, crowds, over-eating, crowds.

We treat the holidays, at best, as if they come as a surprise, and at worst, like they are some kind of emergency.

This turns what is supposed to be a source of celebration into a major source of stress as we run around trying to get everything done. And then we wonder why we don't enjoy the holidays. I call it Frantic Holiday Syndrome.

That's the bad news.

The good news is that families can fight FHS. Here's a partial list of do's and don't for the holiday season:


Feel like you have to have a Hallmark/Norman Rockwell holiday. Remember, those are commercials, with scripts and many takes. Our holiday is live.

Compare this holiday to others, either someone else's or the best you've ever had.

Feel as though you have to please everyone.


Make a distinction between stress and pressure. Stress comes from the outside, while pressure is an inside job.

Fight the cultural expectations.

Give gifts of lasting value, such as time, story, reconciliation, understanding, belonging, family.

Have reasonable expectations for you and your family.

Infants will get cranky because their routine is disrupted.

Preschoolers will squirm and wiggle during the school Christmas play.

Grade-schoolers and preteens will want to stay up all night on Christmas Eve.

Teenagers will want to walk 20 feet away from you in the mall, be with their friends and ask “is that all there is" after opening their presents.

Parents will get frustrated trying to cope with anything that says “some assembly required. " Here's a tip: Read the instructions first.

Plan, plan, plan ahead, and then plan ahead some more.

If you've experienced a recent loss, or this is the anniversary of a loss, don't feel you have to be jolly. Give yourself some time and room to grieve.

Remember that whatever you do, you are making memories that will last a lifetime.

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