The holiday season can combine the worst of several forms of pressure: family, economic and, if you're not careful, health. As stress levels escalate, how are Collingswooders dealing?
“I just kind of trudge through,” said Sandy Ebersole. “There’s not really options. You just keep going forward.”
The biggest albatross is gift wrapping, she says, although the Ebersoles are also very active in the Magnolia Fire Department. They participate in parades, hall decorating and a Christmas Eve drive-through of the entire town to distribute candy canes.
“There’s a lot of commitments,” said Don Ebersole—and apparently their effort pays off. The Magnolia F.D. float has taken first or second place in six of seven holiday parades in which it has been entered. This year’s truck was topped by their teen daughter, Jessica Ebersole, in a Dalmation costume.
“I like it,” Jessica said.
At , Tom Norcross said he only feels “a little bit of stress.”
“It’s the season,” he said. “Busy, busy. Once you start getting in the flow, it’s OK.”
Norcross said that people need a source of stress relief, whether it’s a cup of warm tea or just some time with their feet up.
“Whatever relaxes you, make sure you do it,” he said. His secret?
“Coffee, coffee, coffee.”
College students Caitlin Cline and Lorena Haberera said that the end-of-semester stresses combined with work and extracurricular activities make it really difficult to find time to see friends and family. Without music and exercise, said Haberera, a performance cellist, she’d be worn thin; Cline says that even a manicure can help her de-stress.
At the Bizarre Bazaar outside of , Mud and Fire sculptor Eric Wolff said he’s found peace in the season by detaching from it.
“I think people put so many expectations on themselves, seeing things, doing things, buying things,” Wolff said. “Years ago, I said, ‘To hell with it.’ If I feel like giving gifts, I do. If someone gives me a gift, it’s fine.
“This has helped me enjoy things more,” he said. “It’s an event, not a goal.”
Steve Blackwell and Vincent Gomez said their holiday stress has evaporated altogether since eliminating gift exchanges from their to-do list.
“I limit my gift-giving to my young nieces,” said Blackwell.
“And I do no gift-buying,” finished Gomez.
Gomez lamented that the only seasonal reporting is couched in terms of holiday shopping being “the economic event of the season.”
“And it starts Oct. 1,” he said.
Gemma McCourt shared Gomez’s frustrations.
“I think about how everybody’s getting crazy, and I don’t want to buy into that,” McCourt said. She said a Bible verse every morning helps her keep perspective.
“I use it to remind me that ‘tis the season to be jolly,” she said. “It’s a season that should be joy and happiness and peace.”
Her husband, Jeff McCourt, added that “lots of wine” also helps.
How do you keep the Grinch from taking over during the holiday season? Cut back on gift-buying? Steal away from free time? Drink some wine? Tell us in the comments.