I love NBC’s new hit, This is Us. If you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, it’s a provocative series about a white family of 5; mom, dad, their biological twins and their adopoted black son. You can read more about it here.  It’s a fantastic show and I really hope you get a chance to check it out.

At any rate, I have a point, I promise. On one of the episodes about Thanksgiving, the mom was stressed on Thanksgiving Day. She was trying to make sure she made cranberry sauce to perfection. She was stressed about spending the holidays with overly critical mother, who made her daughter wear this ugly sweater she had given her just to make her happy. The children, who were about 8 at the time,  didn’t want to go, even to the point where they exclaimed that they would not be celebrating Thanksgiving when they get older. When their dad asked why, one of them responded by saying, “Because it’s not fun. Mom is always unhappy and stressed. We always have to perfect and when I get to be an adult, I get to decide what I want to do.” With a dumbfounded, yet epiphanic expression on her face, the mom decided that they would not go to her parents’ house for Thanksgiving, but create their own traditions instead.

How many of you have ever experienced this? You know that feeling between feeling grown, yet doing whatever you grew up doing because that’s what is expected of you, and being grown and doing what you feel is best for you or your family? Or, maybe you and your spouse spend the majority of time trying to figure out how to split time between both of your families to make everyone else happy that forget how to spend time with each other to make yourselves happy? Whatever your unique situation may be hopefully, the tips below will help you combat at least a little of that holiday stress.

Figure out what makes you happy

Whether you are single, married or married with a family, it’s time to figure out how and where you want to spend your holidays. Yes, the holidays are a time for family gatherings and traditions, but only if they are fulfilling and stress-free. When it gets to the point of you, your spouse or children dreading the idea of the holidays, it’s time to make some changes; changes that will make you or your family unit happy and not just everyone else.

Create your own traditions

This doesn’t mean you can’t fuse some of your childhood traditions with new ones, but it does mean you have to create new ones to fuse them with. Traditions are wonderful to carry on from generation to generation; that’s why they call them traditions. However, what makes them special is when people reflect on their own experiences and thoughtfully take steps to create them. Additionally, your children will remember the traditions they helped create. Don’t be afraid to create your own traditions for your family.

Ask for help

If you have one of those big families and you are hosting at your house this holiday season, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can either assign jobs for family members (whether is cooking or clean up duty) or if able, hire a couple extra hands to make it easier for you. The holidays are supposed to be about sharing and giving, so if extra help will help you achieve that, ask for it. You should want to set an example of happiness for your children, not stress.

Let go of perfection

There is no place for perfection, especially during the holidays. Let go of your need for everything to appear to be perfect. We all know there’s no such thing, so you aren’t fooling anyone. You are only unnecessarily stressing yourself out. Instead, strive for laughter, making meaningful memories, enjoying the people you’re with and eating great food. People want happiness during the holidays, not perfection.

Don’t say yes to everything

From ugly sweater parties to office parties and holiday birthday parties to family gatherings, everybody is spreading holiday cheer this time of year. Remember, you can’t say yes to everyone because you’ll spend more time stressing about getting every place you said yes to than actually enjoying the holidays.  Say yes only if it doesn’t mean you’ll stress yourself out by doing so. If you think it will, say no – without guilt.

It’s so important that we remember the real reason we celebrate the holidays. It’s not about perfection, conflict, or stress. It’s about creating lasting memories -happy ones, being with people we enjoy being with and loving on ourselves and each other. Isn’t that why we say, “happy holidays?”

Happy Holidays,