Keeping Christmas simple

Stanley Oliver
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As a child who grew up in the 1970’s, my mind often wanders to the simpler times in life, like Christmas. No doubt our elders would say the same thing about when they were young.

Our family, like many of you, had regular things that we did every Christmas. They became our traditions.  One of them was to attend Christmas concerts, although most were school concerts those days. On December 9th, my family — along with close friends — had the pleasure of attending a concert “A Celtic Christmas” at the local Arts and Culture Center by the Irish Descendants/Navigators. One of the songs performed by Fred Jorgensen with his unique iconic voice was “Days Gone By.” How fitting this song is.

During our time as children and teenagers, there were no iPods, iPads, elaborate video game systems like X-Box and fancy cell phones. Rather, for the boys there was GI Joe, Big Jim, Race Cars that smashed when they hit the wall and Crazy Carpets. For the girls there were Walking Dolls, Easy Bake Ovens and fancy doll heads that they put makeup on. Of course, both could and did receive popular board games such as Payday and Sorry. It was an exciting time and a wonderfully joyous time of expectation. Indeed much simpler times that seemed less hectic.

Unfortunately, for many the holiday season can be one of the most stressful times of the year caused by increased expenses, unrealistic expectations, the pure rush of keeping up with the many functions and the whole emotional and physical pressure Christmas brings. It can also be a very lonely and sad time, if we’re missing distant family members and remembering those we have lost. For those who don’t necessarily celebrate Christmas and the holidays, the constant barrage of music, decorations, television programs and commercialization can make us feel somewhat alienated. During such a hectic time of the year we often find it extremely hard and challenging to focus our attention on the present moment and appreciate the good things and things around us. There are numerous books and articles written about how to handle this, thus here are a few tips to keep in mind during this busy festive season:

Acknowledge your feelings (it’s okay to miss love ones and feel sad at times); accept people for who they are (don’t expect family, friends and co-workers to be perfect because it’s the holiday); don’t overextend yourself financially (keep your finances within your means as required payment afterwards comes quickly); remember what’s important (spending time with family and friends is very important and for many celebrating the faith of the season); and finally, offer gifts of time (volunteering to help the less fortunate in our communities can be very self gratifying).

It’s too easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays and forget what the season is all about. It’s about reflecting on good things in our town, personal lives, and the simple things. It’s about spending time with family and friends, being mindful of the less fortunate, assisting our seniors and helping others. For many this is also a very spiritual time and this should be respected and celebrated. In my view,  it is only when you stay conscientious of the many wonderful things the season offers, you’ll experience less stress.

However, sometimes — in spite of our best efforts to cope with Christmas anxiety and anxiousness — we may still feel sad. That’s okay; talk to people, share in some laughter and focus on the positive things in your life. I can assure you, you will start to appreciate the food, music, decorations, festivities and family. Take five minutes each day to stop “doing” and experience the moment. Most of us need a reminder from time to time, to not only take care of others but to take time to care for ourselves during the holiday season.

As you enjoy this Christmas and look to the New Year, remember days gone by and the simpler things in life, while celebrating what life is really about.

From my family to yours, have a merry and joyous Christmas!

Stanley Oliver writes from Happy Valley-Goose Bay and is full of Christmas cheer! He can be reached at

Organizations: Arts and Culture Center

Geographic location: Happy Valley, Goose Bay

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