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Halloween, is the season opener for the holidays: plan now to manage stress

Posted Oct 25 2010 12:00am

In my way of thinking, Halloween kicks off the Holiday season.  Next week schools will host Halloween parties for kids, parents will be putting finishing touches on costumes either homemade or store bought, candy will be flying off the shelves and pumpkins will be carved.  As of Sunday, October 31st, the holiday season will come rushing towards us like a train barreling across country to make a delivery deadline.  It can be a challenge to get on that holiday train by choice and to be the engineer of our own holiday season, in order to avoid a train wreck.

The holidays can be an exciting time, filled with anticpation of getting together with friends and family, eating delicious food, giving and receiving presents.  They can also be a cocktail of stress with lots of bitters added.  Some stress is out of one's control, like the unanticipated loss of a loved one, a relationship, a job and can make the holidays seem interminable.  Other stress, while difficult, is possible to manage. 

I think that one useful tool to manage holiday stress is to remind ourselves of the context of each holiday.  What were it's origins?  What was the meaning of the holiday in your family?  What does the holiday mean to you now?  These kinds of questions can be a good antidote to stop the hijacking of the holidays by consumerism and traditions that just don't seem to fit anymore..

For example,I grew up in an east coast Italian catholic family.  So, my childhood holidays were steeped in religion and family. At Christmas, my maternal grandfather Frank (Francisco) worked at Borden's ice cream.  On the holiday he would bring a huge tub of ice cream treats to our house.  My mother would let us kids eat all the ice cream we wanted, up to a certain point in the morning, when we would have to stop and save room for dinner.  My mother and the other adult women in my family were, in my mind, typical Italian women, when it came to cooking for the holidays. 

Torrone candy They cooked for days and we had multiple course dinners, starting with roast chicken and pasta all the way through turkey with all the trimmings.  Of course, dessert was fantastic, my favorite was the simple pleasure of Torrone candy .  After dinner, we played poker or Pokeno.  My grandfather let all the kids play poker, no matter their age, as long as they were 'serious when they dealt the cards'.  We played for pennies.  While these are nice memories, some of the traditions and rituals just don't fit my current life style, so I have modified what I do.  Religion doesn't figure in, nor do mulitple course dinners.  However, I always make a sauce (and mine is the best!).  I am getting better at not cooking too much food.

Whether Halloween is a big deal in your family, evidenced by lights and other decorations strung around your house or you just give out candy, it is also a holiday steeped in tradtion and history. Here are a few videos to remind us of the context of Halloween, it's origin and how we have come to embrace it as an important ritual in our culture.




Here is one for fun


So, take some time to learn more about the hows and whys of your holiday traditions and see if it makes a difference in the level of your holiday stress.


Halloween is the season opener for the holiday season

Click here for Chris's Tips for Saner Holiday sanity


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