I've never had much time for all this stress. A Google search tells me there are 64,000,000 entries for stress: how to recognise it, how to avoid it, how to sue your employer for it etc. It seems that every pain, discomfort and irritation we encounter must be 'stress-related'. Even my 91 year old mother-in-law, who has nothing more to think about than which dress to wear, tells me daily that she is 'stressed out'.
My new-found wise friend GKC wrote about the self-induced stress of Christmas in Edwardian England:
The Christmas season is domestic; and for that reason most people now prepare for it by struggling in tramcars, standing in queues, rushing away in trains, crowding despairingly into teashops, and wondering when or whether they will ever get home. I do not know whether some of them disappear for ever in the toy department or simply lie down and die in the tea-rooms; but by the look of them, it is quite likely. Just before the great festival of the home the whole population seems to have become homeless.
He comments on the bustle of pre-Christmas shopping, imagine what he might have said about the excesses of modern spending!
Another of my new friends, this time a living one, is a priest who has come to our parish to recover after a difficult time in Sudan. He worked among Ethiopian refugees there for over twenty years before being imprisoned without charge. Looking at our Christmas preparations through his eyes is a most humbling experience. He doesn't criticise or condemn; he is amazed and amused by the difference between the people he lived among, who carried all of their possessions in a single bag and his current neighbours who worry about how many trips they will have to make to the shops to get everything they need.
Don't accept that Christmas is a stressful time, that's an advertising ploy. My recipe for a stress-free holiday: when you get tired, take a break; when you get exhausted, put your feet up and have a cup of hot chocolate; when you run out of money, stop spending; when you get too many invitations, say you can't go. No stress!