Your list is endless: Mad dash to the baby store to get a special something for your sister’s latest offspring. Wandering through the mall praying for inspiration for something suitable (not too personal, not too impersonal) for that picky-but-invaluable client. Wondering, what on earth you’re going to get your father-in-law since he never wears anything new, has no hobbies and already has access to every movie on his 42-inch flat screen.
And then, of course, there’s the tree to decorate.
OK, let’s be truthful, there’s the tree to find, then the tree to decorate (how many ornaments survived last year?), holiday goodies to bake, the kids’ school special to get ready for, your company’s party to find a dress for because the company snob will declare it loudly and clearly if you wear the same red dress you wore last year, and the annual debate with yourself as to which gifts your husband wants versus what you know he needs. And on and on.
Fried from too many decisions and too many malls, you finally make it home. You hear the whoop and holler of football fans from the TV in the living room and a booming "yes!" in the unmistakable voice of your husband. You peer in. Yup, there he is ensconced on the couch, chips at hand, 100 percent involved in the game. You 100 percent want to throttle him.
Football? Now? In no time, you’re into it, hot and furious. You yell, he yells, doors slam, unfortunate words are spoken. So much for the peace of the holidays.
Frankly, it wouldn’t have mattered if it was football (him) or forgetting to order Mom’s favorite holiday goodie (her). The holidays are loaded with couple stressors, which aren’t going to go away any time soon.
The Words to Get You Through it All
How to cope? One easy, instantly accessible way to step back from stress-causing issues and conflict of any kind during the holidays is to remember, "Peace be to all."
After all, whether you say "Merry Christmas," "Happy Hanukah" or send good wishes for Kwanza, what you mean is "Peace be to all. I wish you well." When you think of blessings at this time of year, whether you celebrate in a temple, church, synagogue or under the stars, your wish for your spouse, your family, and all of mankind is, "Peace on Earth, good will towards all."
Something to remember as you jostle with the crowd at the mall, something to help you forgive as someone unwittingly treads on your toes. Something to remember as you yield that parking place rather than fight fender to fender with a dangerous game of "chicken." Something to remember as you sort out which gift is best for which relative. Something to remember as you make the best decision you can on what will please that picky client. Something to remember when your Aunt Tibby gives you a three-sizes-too-large bright orange and green-trimmed sweater hand knit especially for you. Something to remember when your husband gives you that power tool he’s been lusting after as your special gift.
All through your holiday preparations and the holidays themselves, take a deep breath and remember, "I wish you well. Peace be to all." Let the reminder be your moment of grace. Let the stress just roll off you as you remember the truth of the holidays. Most importantly, remember to include yourself in your well-wishes: "I wish myself well. I wish myself peace."
Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D., is a relationship expert, popular speaker in the U.S. and abroad, and author of nine best-selling books, including her most recent, "Your Man is Wonderful" (www.yourmaniswonderful.com) and "Dangerous Relationships." Dr. Nelson focuses on how we can all enjoy happy, fulfilling lives while accomplishing great things in love, at home and at work. Visit www.noellenelson.com for more.