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It seems that in the past few years, around the holidays, my stress levels are always on the verge of imploding? As an only child growing up in the South Bronx, I recall really enjoying the holiday season despite being dirt poor. The season was a feast for the senses. The holiday lights peering from store windows and people’s homes made the city sparkle. The ever present Christmas music in retail stores put a happy bonce in my step. The abundance of Christmas trees sold on every other street corner brought a refreshing pine aroma that refreshed the polluted city air.¬† Even normally cantankerous New Yorkers were more willing to adapt a smile when met with a “Happy Holidays” salutation. Despite barely having enough money to scrap together a few Christmas gifts, it helped that simply living in a large city with all it’s hustle and bustle, also did it’s best to make the season bright.

santa goes splat

Now a days I wish I could get back to a time when I could appreciate the holidays without having to endure all the stress. I suppose it started a few years ago when I began my relationship with my fiance. In this new relationship a new concept was introduced into my life; holiday travel. With that one new addition, we’ve gone through more hellish experiences during the holidays then I care to recall. Not to mention the additional expense to travel.

This year feels exceptionally stressful because we are still in the midst of planning our out of town wedding, a European honeymoon, managing the health of a very sick elderly cat and trying to deal with unexpected upheavals in our professional lives. It’s only the beginning of December and I’m already looking forward to January’s arrival.

In anticipation I’ve come to realize if I don’t get a handle on things right now, it’s going to be a long anxiety producing month. So here’s the plan….

Checking-Flight-Status

1. Check and confirm all travel information well in advance.

Every year we travel, something seems to go wrong at the airport. This year we booked our flight directly with the airline instead of through a third party provider like Expedia or Travelocity. We will be confirming flights and seats before arriving to the airport and monitoring the status of the flight’s expected departure and arrival. Most carriers have a flight status checker that can send alerts about any delays directly to your phone.

shopping stress

2. Make gift giving simple and personable.

I love to give gifts as much as I love receiving them. With so much going on seemingly all at once, it’s hard to come up with the time or energy for Christmas shopping. This year to help mitigate the stress I am opting for low key low cost gifts. Gift cards for the adults, cash for the kids, ($1 for each year of their age, how very old lady of me) and small jars of my personally handmade Shea Butter eye cream to keep the wrinkles and lines at bay. This makes packing for Christmas almost painless. And speaking of packing….

Pack-for-a-Trip

3. Pack well in advance of travel.

This year I plan on gathering a variety of outfits, shoes and accessories and putting them all together in my suit case no later than a week before we leave. Nothing puts a damper on holiday travel like last minute packing. So why make things harder on yourself? By packing early I save precious time and sleep the night before I fly and leave little room that I’ll forget something I need to bring.

The point is, where there is something I can take charge of I need to do just that. Being proactive and planning for as much as possible allows me the peace of mind of knowing it’s handle. With things under control as much as possible, I might just be able to relax enough to take an evening stroll and enjoy the sparkling lights and the pine scented air of the holiday season.

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