Thanksgiving to Christmas has always been the most stressful time of the year for me - I literally breathe a sigh of relief when it's over. Besides all the social pressures pulling from different directions, December also has the fewest hours of sunlight which always sends my system into a tailspin. It has historically been a season of stressful final exams, and since I finished school, it's become a season of stressful year-end projects with deadlines.
I deal with it by carefully and deliberately not overextending myself.
1) I avoid office Christmas parties like the plague. Going out with a few friendly coworkers after work is one thing, but I just don't have the time for these big pointless departmental shindigs.
2) I make no promises (to myself or to others) that I will regret later. Sure I'd love to bake 20 cranberry loaves for the family like I did five years ago, but I just don't have that kind of time now. Wine, cheese, and a nice platter of fresh bakery cookies work just as well.
3) I send out my holiday greeting cards whenever I get around to it (sometimes after New Years). I'm always happy to hear from my friends, and honestly couldn't care less if the greeting is postmarked after Dec 24. Hopefully they feel the same way.
4) Between Thanksgiving and New Years Day, I stay far far away from shopping malls and their crass, mind-numbing commercialism . Thankfully traditional Christmas shopping went out years ago when my nieces and nephews got too old for toys. Never again will I have to drive to six Toys R Us stores in search of a plastic piece of crap that doesn't exist. Today, my giftgiving M.O. is gift certificates and the internet. When family ask me what I want, I tell them gift certificates and the internet That way, everybody gets EXACTLY what they want, and the insanity is kept to a bare minimum. (BTW
, I try to let people know what I got with their gift certificate and love to hear the same from them - it helps remove the somewhat impersonal nature of gift certificates).
5) Finally, I keep in mind that there are twelve months in the year, and seeing ALL my friends and family does not have to be crammed into one of them!
Hope you have a merry, stress-free Christmas!