Tips to reduce holiday stress

by Bruce Hartley,
Life Issues Columnist

Over the River and Through the Woods, Baby it’s Cold Outside, Silver Bells, Do You Hear What I Hear and other cheery tunes are playing in stores and possibly making you feel anxious about Christmas. This time of the year can be emotionally difficult. Take a moment and think of ways to embrace this crazy season and start some traditions that will lower your anxiety.

LGBT+ families can enjoy many of the same activities that straight people engage in during the holiday season. I am a gay dad and I know other gay dads who often question what they will do during the holidays. LGBT+ parents deserve to enjoy the season. It’s time we all step up and show others that we are confident; our families will appreciate our leadership.

The most important thing that I suggest we all do is make a list of the activities that will make the season fun for ourselves and our significant others. Select one or two things to do each week during the month of December. You can use a simple spiral notebook or make the list on your computer or mobile device. This first step is key, because when you write it down it becomes “something real” and not just an idea in your head.

Next, call, text or email your significant others and decide the plan for gifts. Don’t commit to buy something for everyone you know. Push for drawing names with a reasonable price limit. Consider handmade gift exchanges or a “white elephant” gift exchange. White elephant gifts are items you already have in your home that you can wrap and use as a gift.

After you come to agreement with your significant others, add this to your schedule for gift shopping/planning/wrapping and the date/time/place when you will distribute the gifts.

If you have not decorated your home, don’t stress. You can have a festive home without the fuss or expense. Candles are an easy decoration that can make your home warm and cozy. Hit the local value or thrift store for inexpensive decorations.

A wreath on your front door is welcoming and a group of candles with some greenery can make a dining or coffee table a focal point. Don’t think you must have a fully decorated tree. Of course, you can if time allows but it’s not a requirement.

Start thinking about food for gatherings. If you are a guest at a gathering and need to bring a dish or drink, consider something simple such as a cheese/cracker, vegetable/fruit or cookie tray. To save time, buy the food items from the grocery store (already baked, sliced or prepped) and put the food on your own dishes to fancy them up a bit. Of course, if your gathering is with people 21 and older, taking a bottle of wine or champagne is always fun.

Watch for newspaper and social media announcements for holiday concerts and events in your community. LGBT+ choirs often have holiday concerts and appreciate a good audience. Attending these concerts will allow you to feel part of a larger group.

Other events that can make December fun includes local parades, open houses and even holiday movies. There are numerous movies scheduled on television, streaming and at the theatre.

Special church services are also frequent during the holiday season. This is an option for LGBT+ people and we don’t have to feel like we are not allowed to attend. If you have a church that you attend, you probably already have this figured out. Look for church services on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day if you want to attend a special service.

If you are a single LGBT+ older person don’t ever feel you have to be alone during the holidays. Take some of the ideas in this column and connect with your coworkers, friends and accepting family and challenge yourself to be part of the season. Schedule yourself to stay active during the month. This will allow you to sing along with the holiday carols and it will make the month much more fun for you.

Finally, start early making plans for New Year’s Eve. It’s never too early to find someone to kiss at midnight on December 31. See you all next year!

Copyright The Gayly – December 21, 2017 @ 7:20 a.m. CST.