Column: Tips on getting through the stresses of the holiday season

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 14, 2005

They’re heeeeeeeeere!

That’s right, the holidays are here again and I want to give you some sound advice to get through the stresses of the holiday season.

First let’s identify the stresses:

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1. Shopping

2. Decorating.

3. Relatives visiting or visiting relatives.

OK, shopping stresses can be dealt with any number of ways. One way is not to shop for the holidays. We men have been doing this for centuries and it has lowered our stress level by many points.

If you can’t seem to get away with not shopping, then another way of dealing with this stress is by doing all your shopping in one day.

One day of stress is better than many days of stress, I think, but if you are like my wife and many other people I know, you do not get the best deals this way.

Men are simple.

If I wear out a pair of shoes, I go to the store and buy shoes.

I shop for clothes when I need them, not before.

My wife and many others shop during the course of the year and hang them in the closet in case they need them. This is sort of like &8220;In case of fire break glass and get out new blouse.&8221; I don’t understand it, but then I just go along.

I like the part when I notice my wife’s new outfit and say, &8220;That’s nice. Is it new?&8221; and her reply is, &8216;This old thing?&8221; as she is cutting the tags off of it.

This conversation does two things to the man. One, it says my wife did not buy anything new and makes us feel in control of our finances, and two, it makes us feel like we should let her go buy something new for being so good with our finances.

Both feelings lead to your wife getting another new outfit and we learn who really is in control of our finances as well as us as men.

If the above-mentioned ways of dealing with shopping stresses do not work, you can always try to gut it out and go shopping the normal way, but please remember to be nice to the clerks and store personnel as they are dealing with your stress times 20,000 people.

You do not want to mess with that loaded cannon.

Stress No.2 is decorating. I have to unravel the 3,000 strings of lights out in my garage every year because I do not want my family to hear those funny words that come out of my mouth when coordinating the lights each year. No matter how well you put them away, the lights always

get tangled up and they never seem to work the same each year.

To lower this stress, you can leave your lights on and tree up all year, hire an electrician, or let your big mouth brother-in-law do it himself because he knows exactly how it should be done anyway.

The other stress usually happens when you have all the decorations just the way your wife told you to put them on and then your child comes in and they forgot to tell you about the 6-foot-by-4-foot decoration that they made you in second grade and you have to put it on the tree. Suddenly you are torn between how your wife wants the tree to look and the sentimental ornament that is from your child with lots of love in it.

Let me tell you how I solved this dilemma. I went and bought a 4-foot fake tree that we put all of my children’s ornaments on and it looks pretty cool. We keep it in the family room separate from the original Christmas tree. The children are happy as well as my wife so that equals me being happy.

The final stress I will help you with is relatives. Whether visiting or being visited, relatives can cause stress.

Let me tell you what I did to solve this dilemma: I moved 11 hours and over 500 miles away and it seems to have worked out pretty well.

Although I love my family and miss them, it is easier to call them and catch up on news than to be a part of the news.

If you can’t move, then my advice is to always say you look great and smile and everything will go OK, trust me.

I hope this article helps to lower your stresses during the next month or so &045; and Happy Holidays.

(Scott Schmeltzer’s column appears Mondays in the Tribune.)