Written by Karen Fox & Ruth Blaicher, guest authors for my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner.
Transition Barrie recently held 'Simplify the Holidays' at the Barrie Public Library, to help folks get through the season with as little stress as possible.
Ideas were shared on gifts, entertaining and plans for activities. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever is being celebrated, is very personal. As we went around the circle hearing about people's traditions and cultures, we learned everyone celebrates in their own way and family traditions are rich. Some follow age-old customs, while others have created their own tradition, special foods and activities that the guests always look forward to.
Many anticipated finding an orange at the bottom of their stocking, and many mentioned some form of Christmas pudding, or other dish traditionally served on their special holiday. Customs ranged from decorating the tree and opening presents Christmas Eve, to large family turkey dinners on Dec. 25. Food seems to be a central theme for all celebrations. The holidays are a time to get together with family and friends to share a meal or exchange gifts.
However you choose to celebrate, planning is key to making your event more enjoyable. Are you having a one-day event, eight days of Hanukkah, or a week of Kwanzaa? Plan each day in respect to what type of food will be prepared, what groceries are needed to prepare those special meals, who will do the cooking, when will it be done or stored. Plan weeks ahead. Consider asking your guests to each contribute a special dish; they may enjoy helping and feel more a part of the celebration.
Presents can be daunting. Simplify gift-giving by drawing names and buying for only one person in your group. Perhaps you could buy everyone on your list the same thing such as a book, movie tickets, a gift certificate or homemade treat. The general rule of thumb is that if it does not feel right, don't do it. You don't have to spend exactly the same amount on each person, you don't have to buy for everyone you know and you don't have to spend your entire day cooking if you don't want.
The most important part of holidays is getting together with loved ones. It does not matter which day they come, just that you see them. Sometimes, everyone can't get together on one day. Be flexible. There's always numerous parties and events to attend. Choose wisely; you can only be in one place at a time. Prioritize and do the things of most interest to you. Talk to your family, share your scheduling concerns. Create your own traditions. Do it your way; people adapt. By delegating duties and being realistic about what you can accomplish you can make it through the holidays with your sanity intact.
Ruth Blaicher and Karen Fox are local realtors and founding members of Transition Barrie with a passion for green issues and are directors of Living Green.