Do you remember the old nursery lyric “Rock-a-bye Baby” that tells a story about a baby in a cradle in a tree that falls crashing down to the ground when the wind blows? It’s not the most calming of lyrics nor is it a concept that is “baby appropriate”. Yet the tune is sweet so we blindly sing the song. But this is Christmas time and it is likewise full of similar songs that are more stress producing than peaceful. Here are just a few samples:
- “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas just like the ones I used to know. Where the treetops glisten and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow.” Perhaps your Christmas memories are different but I have yet to experience a Christmas when any “children listen” to bells or even adults for that matter. Having an expectation that a child will be patiently listening for a bell in the snow is frankly silly and unrealistic.
- “Deck the halls with bounds of holly…tis the season to be jolly…strike the harp and join the chorus…follow me in merry measure.” The demand of a decorated house, being happy all the time, playing cheerful music, singing, and dancing is a lot to accomplish when life usually hands the toughest of blows this time of year. Statistically, this is the most depressed and lonely time of the year as many families are experiencing their first Christmas without a loved one, without a job or in worse financial condition than ever.
- “On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me…on the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me.” This song portrays 78 gifts that a “true love” gives to another which is an unusual amount of gift giving and excessive by most standards. It sounds more like the “true love” is trying to buy love instead of showing love.
- “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.” Have you ever tried to roast chestnuts in your oven? If you don’t score them precisely, they will explode in such a mess that it will take weeks just to get all of the gummy like nut off the sides of your walls. Forget about an open fire, where a chestnut exploding can knock an eye out! That shiner will definitely be a Christmas to remember.
- “Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful, and since we’ve no place to go, Let It Snow!” Just one look at your calendar will probably reveal that you already don’t have a free weekend and most of the weekdays are quickly filling up as well. “No place to go”? You must be kidding this season is packed with too many places to go and too many decisions to make resulting in too many people to disappoint.
- “Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh, what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh.” Any repetitive noise such as a bell for long periods of time is not likely to cause fun but rather a piercing migraine. Add to that an open sleigh which is cold and horses that poop along the way which is smelly and there is definitely no fun to be had. Just because one person believes an activity to be fun does not mean that another person is going to agree.
- “Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?” What is this song saying, that we should forget our acquaintances and not bring them up any more? Granted there are usually some acquaintances that you want to forget and never bring up anymore but unfortunately these are usually the ones that seem to hang around into the New Year.
Sometimes reducing our stress during Christmas is more about thinking through the programmed songs that are sung and resetting your expectations to more realistic levels. It might not be the “most wonderful time of year” for you but that is ok; it does not have to be. You can however make it more wonderful by not expecting children to be patiently listening, decorating every inch of the house, insisting that others have fun your way or getting frustrated that you can’t forget something that you would rather not remember.
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