5 Strategies to Help You Keep Your Sanity This Christmas

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Some people absolutely love going home for the holidays.  Their Facebook status updates are all “Sitting ’round the fire with pie, wine and my wonderful family”,  “Loving being home with my parents!” or “Just came in from building a gender-blind snowman with my loving supportive mother, multi-ethnic vegan nieces and jolly patriarchical grandfather!”

For some of us the prospect of spending the holidays with our families is less rosy. My holiday weekend is usually broken down into six emotive-categories:

10% “I’mHappy-to-Be-Home-This-Is Fun”

30% “I Love Eating!/TV-Watching!/Sleeping For Hours on End!”

5% Cooking

5% “Presents!!”

10% Stress-Induced-Teeth-Grinding

5% Not Saying What I Really Think to Avoid Bloodshed

35% “I Fucking Hate You People”

This year I am spending an unprecedented 4 nights at my parents house. This is one more night than my usual, self-imposed limit.  Generally speaking, the morning of Day 3 is when I really feel like I actually might go on a killing rampage so it’ll be an interesting experiment to see what this familial Witches Brew will yield when a fourth day is added!

As challenging as the holidays with your family can be, there are some ways to cope with being at home that should help to ease the angst and stress and ensure that your Christmas celebration doesn’t descend into a bloody pool of eggnog and shattered Christmas ornaments

Cook or Bake

Sequestering yourself in the kitchen and giving yourself something constructive to do is a great way to avoid punching your great-uncle in the face while also creating a delicious and edibile product.  Check out this blog for baking, and this one for cooking.  Then, channel all that annoyance and frustration into whipping eggs flour and butter together and then eat the sugary fruits of your labor as you engage in stress-relief tactic #2…

Watch Movies

There are no shortage of holiday movies, but as Anna aptly points out, most of them suck. It’s a sad feeling when you turn on the TV over the Christmas holiday ready to enjoy some good ol’ TV watching and all that’s on is Christmas with the Kranks, Jingle All the Way and Deck the Halls, which, tragically are only a drop in the tinsel-trimmed bucket of terrible holiday comedies. There are a couple of winners though, so download/rent/watch instantly for some very necessary holiday cheer:

The Ref

This is actually a really funny movie and one of the only times that Dennis Leary remains funny without straying into obnoxious townie territory.

A Muppet Christmas Carol

I dare you not to like this movie.  Seriously.  It’s Michael Caine and the goddam Muppets.  It’s its own Christmas miracle.

It’s A Wonderful Life

I never saw this movie until last year and I fully expected to hate it.  How wrong I was.  It’s actually really kind of gorgeous and made me cry.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Duh. The soundtrack is also perfect for Christmas Dinner.

Read

There’s something cozy and nice about sequestering yourself away to a nook by a window, bringing a cup of tea and a book and just escaping for a little while.  Some great books that for some reason work well for this season are:

Holidays on Ice

On Beauty

Winter’s Tale -this one is a biggie but it will pretty much blow you away, especially if, like me, you are in love with the city of New York.

Dead Souls - something about 19th century Russia just conjures wintry images.

Exercise

Seriously. I know it’s counter to everything about the holidays, but getting your adrenaline pumping is actually really helpful when it comes to managing the stress of the holidays, feeling a little more awake and alive and BONUS: it gives you an excuse to down another plateful of mashed potatoes.

Sleep

All you do is complain about how tired you are.  So?  Sleep. Who cares if all you did since you woke up was eat breakfast and watch the Christmas episode of Saved by the Bell where Zach falls in love with that girl at the mall who’s homeless?  That’s emotional exhaustion right there.  Snooze off that Dickensian drama.

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About the author

Ashley Friedman - Cornerstore Correspondent

Like most kids, Ashley grew up in New Jersey. Unlike most kids the Friedman's televison set acted as a third parent, imbuing young Ashley with the stern moral values of Claire Huxtable, the dramatic tendencies of Brenda Walsh and the earnest hopefulness of the blond kid on Silver Spoons. After graduating from Sarah Lawrence Ashley made her way to the Park Slope area of Brooklyn where she can currently be found reading foreign fashion magazines, scouring ebay for vintage heels, eating out in restaurants and otherwise stretching her meager income as far as it will go in NYC.