I had to sit back, take some deep breaths, and remember not to take other people's holiday-stress-induced reactions personally today. No easy feat, considering that I'm pregnant, hormonal, and ready to cry over just about anything these days. After being the target of a telephone rant from a relative-gone-crazed from holiday stress, I turned the phone ringer off and made myself a nice hot cup of spearmint tea with milk and honey.
I just can't relate to all the holiday insanity this year. I watch friends and family, as well as the hoards of strangers, rush around to feed the commercial frenzy that has become synonomous with "celebrating the holidays". I wonder how many of them will go home and call some unsuspecting loved one and take it out on them? How many of them will argue with their spouse over how much was charged to the credit card? How many of them will get into fender benders racing to grab the next available parking space, even though it is a mile away from the entrance and the parking lot looks more like an ice rink? How many of them will exacerbate health problems, like high blood pressure, trying to live up to some image created by corporate marketing strategists that guilt people into debt to show how much they "care"?
Having had a Massage Therapy practice for several years, I can attest to how damaging stress is to the body. Stress can lead to insomnia, neck and back pain, muscle pain, mood swings, high blood pressure, digestive discomforts, tension headaches, premature aging, and impaired immune function. With all of the rushing around, pushing through crowded stores, road rage, winter weather conditions, and added financial burden, I find it incredible that, as a culture, we willingly subject ourselves to this stress-fest each and every year.
This stress doesn't just end after the holiday parties do. For the next two months, we scramble to pay those large credit card bills. January and February were always my slowest months of the year. The majority of clients that I would see were those redeeming gift certificates, while many of my regular clients would fade away to pay off some of those holiday bills.
Better doesn't mean always mean bigger, more expensive, or more elaborate. A major part of "living better" for our household is cultivating peace of mind. This Yuletide season, I'll have that peace of mind as I sit with my husband, proudly donning his new handknit cabled fisherman's sweater, sipping homemade hot chocolate with real whipped cream, in our candlelit living room, watching our toddler devour his holiday cookies, and knowing that we are but one, small, monthly payment away from eliminating all credit card debt.
No matter how "cheap" others may feel we are being this holiday season, we feel rather rich, and especially relaxed. Now that seems like something worth celebrating to me.
Live better, a little every day.