Sunday, December 9, 2007

Stressmas

Some years, it's just hard for me to get in the "holiday spirit", and I don't think I'm alone. Often, Christmas becomes "Stressmas."

One of my co-workers hands out new desk calendars every year to a bunch of teachers. As she hands each one out, she says, "There, you're done." She can't wait to get all the various presents out of her house and off to the receiver.

While, she may come across as being a Scrooge, I think we all kind of feel the same way at times. Buying Christmas gifts is just another thing added to our every growing To Do list. We want to find the perfect gift for everyone, and that's not always easy. Advertisements are constantly bombarding us with "perfect gifts" for those fantasy people with perfect lives.

Another co-worker asked me not to buy her a Christmas gift this year, because she can't afford to buy me one. She is certainly feeling like it's "stressmas". I never bought her a gift with the expectation of getting something in return, but I'm not going to give her one this year if it will make her feel bad that she couldn't reciprocate.

I see students wearing the same clothes everyday, and know there won't be lots of presents under their trees. How stressful for them to see their classmates return after the new year sporting all their new clothes, latest cell phones, and mp3 players. Even in my affluent high school, it was like a competition to see who had the most new outfits after Christmas.

The two weeks before Christmas break are often the worst two weeks of the school year. Expectations are running high. Kids see commercials and Christmas specials depicting perfect family holidays, when their family doesn't even come close. Many have absent fathers, parents addicted to drugs, little food, no heat, and health problems. The stress of it all leads to fights, defiance, and sadness. I try to keep their home lives in mind when the kids start acting out. It makes me feel a little less stressed about my life, when I put myself in their shoes for a moment. Many of them experience far more "Stressmas" than Christmas.

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