By Tom Kelly, M.S.
It is holiday time in New York City. The tree is up in Rockefeller Center and the Winter Village is bustling in Bryant Park. The department store windows are decorated along 34th street. The crowds are growing in Midtown Manhattan. It is the most wonderful time of the year. Maybe?
New York City is exceptionally beautiful during this time of year, and it makes complete sense that many travel far distances to experience the local holiday spirit. But, I can’t help but think of how this time of year is so stressful! For me, this time also means the conclusion of an academic semester, pressure to get gifts, and pinching time to meet commitments. I find myself quite annoyed that I cannot fully enjoy, what should be, the most wonderful time of the year.
Walking through midtown, there are hundreds of people who seem to be enjoying the holiday atmosphere. As I think about all that I need to get done, I get irritated.
Perhaps it is envy, but I start to focus on how I should be able to enjoy the holiday, just like everyone else. My guess is that many others feel this same holiday stress. In a way, we are right that we should be able to enjoy the holiday. However, the stress and annoyance happens with a continuous focus on the unfairness. This focus is unhelpful!
The holiday season is not stress free, and expecting it to be only joy and happiness is a tricky goal! Instead, it will be better to accept that things will most certainly become a bit frantic (while not liking this possible reality), and that I won’t be spending all of my time ice skating in the park. Just as importantly, accepting that stress will occur allows for greater appreciation of the moments when I am able to enjoy the holiday spirit. The most wonderful time of the year can include times that are not so wonderful.