Don't worry about that Lexus this holiday season

  • Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It’s that time again, and what I am hearing most from readers is about holiday money stress and strained relationships. What is proposed to be “the best time of the year, ding dong,” has complications that can leave us exhausted, on edge, more likely to snap at our “sweethearts,” and this is the time when we are supposed to be all lovey-dovey and going out to buy one another a Lexus. Isn’t that what the Christmas ads on TV tell us?
Dear Liz,
With the economy as it is, we have less than ever to spend on Christmas. My husband and I have already agreed to pass on presents for one another - which does not feel right to me - I mean, I want to treat him, but that would only make him mad. Makes me sad. We have children and grandchildren to buy for - and less than ever for each. We have different money backgrounds as it is, and that includes how to do Christmas. But I am feeling more sad and more stressed than ever. Ideas?
-Forced to be a scrooge
Dear “forced,”
I feel for you, and from the comments I am receiving from readers, we are all pretty much going through similar anguish this year. My recommendation has always been to give families a gift budget and get your kid’s input (with those dollar parameters) on what their children want most from Grandma or Grandpa.
It allows you to spend your limited funds on just what they want. For older grandkids, gift cards to a favorite store or two are always a “hit.” The state of the economy and all of the unknown can have a silver lining. It forces us to focus more on the true “reason for the season” and on the gift of family. As for relationships, we’ll look at that with my next letter. Relax and know your family is already convinced how much you love them, and you are the best present they can ever have.
Dear Liz,
Most of the Christmas cards I see talk about “Peace on Earth” but nothing about peace at home. Help.
I know I am feeling more stressed and even depressed than ever. I am finding us arguing over stupid things. And just feeling ‘blah’ and not wanting to do many of our Christmas traditions.
-As the kids say, “Bummed”
Dear “Bummed,”
As soon as Daylight Savings ended, I noticed a marked difference in my mood, as well as that of my clients and readers.
Every year at this time, as the amount of sunlight lessens with shorter days building up to the shortest day, winter solstice, Dec. 21.
With that comes an increase in the incidence of “Seasonal Affective Disorder” or “SAD” which is a clinical depression caused by the decrease on natural light getting to the brain (which creates serotonin, the well-being neurotransmitter.)
Treatment includes special lights and an emphasis on getting outside help, along with medicine in some cases. But the biggest victim tends to be our relationships. We feel bad, so we are more touchy, snappy - even angry.
Being on the best routine of rest, exercise, nutrition, fun, laughter, meaningful activities and prayer is usually the answer. Instead of expecting your spouse to “act” a certain way, which makes you happy, focus more on what you have control over - you.
Don’t wait to get some short-term help from a licensed professional or clergy.
You can then have a much happier New Year, in all ways.
(Thank you for your questions and comments.Contact Liz via asksharpliz@gmail.com. Liz Brisacher Sharp is a Master degree level Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice with 35 years experience in mental health including serving as a school counselor, consultant and mediator. Liz is known for her many years as a TV News and Weather Broadcaster, and as a long time columnist for the monthly Lowcountry Sun. Liz is the proud mom of two and joyful grandmother of three.)

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