Holidays are different around the world. Only a few countries have no national holidays. In the United States, most people refer to the holidays as those in and around December. Regardless of what you celebrate, you will probably get together with family and friends. You may look forward to seeing your friends, but most people do not look forward to visiting with family. You choose to be with your friends, but you are usually obligated to spend time with your family. Depending on your family, this will lead to positive or negative emotions. How you handle those emotions is completely up to you.
Most of my life, I have enjoyed the holiday season despite my atheism. I had religious parents who celebrated Christmas fully. We had a Christmas tree, decorations around our house, and my parents did not shy away from the religious side of Christmas. They focused more on Santa, giving presents, and listening to Christmas music than the religious side of the holiday. I listen to Christmas music to this day despite my atheism. I do not believe in the religious aspects of Christmas, but enjoy the fantastical elements of the holiday. Calling it the Christmas season instead of the holiday season does not matter to me. I know that it matters to others who do not celebrate Christmas so I refer to this time of year as the holiday season. Calling it the holiday season does not infringe on your beliefs about Christmas, but you could infringe on someone else’s beliefs if you call it the Christmas season.
Giving presents is a part of many, but not all, holiday celebrations. Giving presents to someone else shows that you care about him or her. Many people see giving someone a present as an obligation even if they do not care about the other person. You may not care about a person in a relationship with someone you care about. You may put no thought into what you give them. In most cases, that person will know you do not care about them from the present he or she receives. Showing you care about someone includes the other people in his or her life. Find out what the other person would appreciate receiving. Caring about someone is also about accepting who he or she cares about. You may not see what he or she appreciates about the other person, but that is fine. You are not in a relationship with that person.
Spending time with family, shopping for presents, and dealing with the crowds can be stressful, but they do not have to be. If you plan things at the last minute, you will increase the chances of a stressful holiday season. Even if you plan things well, other people’s lack of planning can force you into making last-minute changes and increasing your stress level. Regardless of the source of your stress, you still have a choice of whether to accept the stress of others. Stressful people do everything in their life with stress including celebrating the holidays. You can help that person out to relieve some of his or her stress, but you do not have to adopt the stress of that person. Avoiding stress is not about avoiding stressful situations, it is about solving problems as they come up without stressing about them. The holidays are only as stressful as you make them. Other people’s stress does not have to be your stress.
Much of the stress of the holidays comes from unresolved family issues. The easiest solution is to ignore these issues during the holidays. The issues will still be there after the holidays, but they will not ruin the holidays for the entire family. If you do not get along with your brother, avoid that brother so that your parents and other siblings can still enjoy themselves. Consider it your gift to the whole family. Avoiding subjects such as politics, sex, sports, and religion will help avoid stressful conversations. If others bring these things up, try to change the subject or remove yourself from the area. If asked why you are leaving, be honest, but stay away from mentioning specific disagreements with others. Just say you would rather not talk about those things during the holidays. The holidays are not a competition to see who can be the most stressed. Avoiding stress is mainly having a plan to handle and avoid the stress that the holidays can cause.