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Minimizing Stress for the Holidays and Adding a New Family Member

Many words come to mind when I think of the holidays. Merriment. Joy. Family. Food. Presents. I doubt I am alone when I also think of another word: stress.

I come from a divorced household which doesn’t make the holidays difficult necessarily, but it does make the holidays…different. Instead of picturing my family gathered around the table I plan out how I’m going to attempt to split up my time evenly between two houses. In contrast my husband’s parents have been together for 40 years, so it’s hard for him to relate. Now my brothers and I all live in separate states and I have in-laws to visit as well. So there is even more separation during the holidays, and yes more stress. Finances is another source of stress. I’m a teacher and don’t exactly make the big bucks, and let’s face it the holidays are largely about consumerism.

I don’t mean to sound like the Grinch. I do love the holidays. I just wanted a way to minimize my stress and enjoy the holidays more.

My husband and I celebrated Thanksgiving with an alternative plan- a weekend trip to Charleston. We traded in the traditional Thanksgiving family dinner for a delicious seafood meal and some much needed time together. *Side note: if you’ve never eaten at Blossom I highly recommend it!

We also skipped the Black Friday sales and shared an early Christmas present instead- we rescued a second shelter dog we named Scout, after the strong female character in To Kill a Mockingbird. Because we know dogs are a financial responsibility we decided not to buy each other gifts this year. It felt great to give a dog a home for the holidays and not worry about what to buy my husband. That was one way we minimized the holidays.

For family presents we decided to get gifts for couples instead of individual gifts, which cut down our spending significantly and made shopping much easier. I didn’t wrap a single gift this year and instead put all gifts in holiday bags saved from last year. Most wrapping paper is not recyclable and the glitter and metallic paper actually contaminates recycling. An estimated 4.6 million pounds of wrapping paper is made in the U.S. every year and 2.3 million pounds end up in the landfills. If you’ve ever felt guilty about throwing away all that paper you’re not alone and your feelings are not unwarranted! Using old bags saved me time, money, and I didn’t contribute additional waste.

So another holiday season has come and gone and I feel relaxed and less stressed going into 2020. Happy New Year from to your family from ours…now a family of four. 🙂

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