Q. I enjoyed one of your past columns about using humor to reduce stress during the holidays. Can you do a reprise? And I want to say to other parents: Don't try to do it all yourself even if you do it better! Delegate, delegate, delegate jobs to family members. Everyone can have a part to play, and when kids help cook and bake, the experience and help is still valuable, even if they make somewhat of a mess in the kitchen. — P. W.
A. Your advice is perfect; thank you. Speaking of perfect, if you are a parent and expect to have a perfectly clean house, perfect holiday meals and decorations and perfect gifts along with perfectly behaved children, remember that you are not Martha Stewart — she has a huge staff and you do not. Don't set yourself up for disaster by having unrealistic expectations; it's a major cause of stress.
Think about what Christmas is really about … it's about the spirit of the season and getting together for fun with friends and family. So what if the kids help with cookies and make a mess? It's easy to clean up and they will remember the good times they had with you for a lifetime. They will not remember that you had a clean and sparkling house.
Here are a few more tips:
Cut down on fancy dinners and consider potlucks to share favorite recipes. Set realistic goals for events and projects. Buy some of the baked goods at church or school bake sales. Be creative and have a sense of humor with gift wrapping. Have you ever used brown paper bags and twine for the presents? Get one of the Christmas toys that roll over or laugh. Laughing is contagious.
Here are the funny bone tickler excerpts from a 1991 article by Kathy Peel and Judie Byrd in the Family Focus magazine that I still love to quote.
• The time it takes to find a parking place is inversely proportional to the time you spend shopping.
• The more expensive a gift, the better your chances of dropping it.
• The other line always moves faster.
• Interchangeable parts won't be. Unassembled toys will have too many screws and some parts will be left over.
• When returning a broken article at the store, it will work perfectly for the clerk.
• Amnesia strikes all family members when you want the tape or the good scissors.
• Children have built-in detection devices for finding gifts you have cleverly hidden.
Evelyn Petersen is an award-winning parenting columnist and early childhood educator and author who lives in Traverse City; see her website at askevelyn.com. For more columns from Evelyn Petersen, visit record-eagle.com/askevelyn.