Despite stresses for many, Christmas should be a time of enjoyment and fun

By on December 24, 2013

Christmas is usually seen as a time of joy, giving and connecting with family and friends.

For many people it’s a time of indulgence in wonderful food, drinking and lavish gift giving.

Many draw spiritual renewal from the celebration of this important holiday in the Christian faith.

Others, though not religious, still celebrate the Christmas traditions so deeply rooted in our culture, many going back to pagan times.

As Canada becomes more and more multicultural, many Canadians come from faiths where Christ is either not recognized or is seen as a less prominent prophet.

Many new Canadians of non-Christian faiths still join in the celebrations. Christmas has become an inclusive holiday for people of all backgrounds and beliefs.

Unfortunately, for many people there is a less pleasant side to Christmas.

As distant families re-unite to celebrate, airports and highways are jammed with travellers in stressful situations.

Family get-togethers can be joyous, but they also bring together different family members who may not get along at the best of times.

Hosting large numbers of people, preparing family meals and making Christmas arrangements can be stressful. All too often the burden of meal preparation falls to one person, very often a woman.

Overindulgence is a Christmas hazard, whether drinking or eating to excess. Social pressures can cause usual moderation to fall by the wayside.

For those with mental health problems, Christmas can be especially difficult.

The combination of Christmas expectations, general stress and gloomy weather can be a toxic mix.

For those who have lost loved ones, especially at this time of year, Christmas can be especially challenging. The missing person’s absence is constantly evident.

People who live alone may be especially lonely at Christmas when friends leave to celebrate with family elsewhere.

Mental health organizations such as the Canadian Mental Health Association realize that many people find Christmas difficult. Many have prepared holiday tips to help people cope.

Most of these mental health organizations advise first and foremost that you should decide what Christmas activities and traditions are important for you. Develop your own family traditions free from the pressure to spend more on lavish gift giving than you can afford.

Here in Osoyoos, there is a strong tradition of generosity to others at Christmas who are less fortunate. It is not that hard to spread joy to others.

It is, however, also necessary to take time for yourself, especially when pressures of Christmas start to build.

Make time to take a walk or read a book or do something you enjoy. Recognize the signs of stress and take a few deep breaths or take a break.

Drink sensibly. At Christmas and New Years, drinking is often part of the festivities, and many people overindulge. Alcohol is a depressant and can cause low moods, irritability and aggressive behaviour.

And, it should go without saying, never drink and drive!

Most of us, however, handle Christmas sensibly and it can be a memorable and special occasion.

From all of us at the Osoyoos Times, we wish you a happy holiday with friends and family and most important of all, we hope you stay safe.

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