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Holiday Stress Relief

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Holiday Stress Relief

Holiday Stress Relief

Holiday gift giving can add stress to our lives, not to mention our budgets. I have a simple remedy for the problem.

A number of years ago, my wife and I found ourselves in our kitchen in late December surrounded by more baskets of fruit, wine, and trendy gourmet food items than any family needed. All were sent with good intentions — patients or other physicians wanting to thank me for caring for them. But even if the intent was beautiful, the result was overwhelming for us. Even our children could not help us devour the sum total of holiday treats.

“We really can afford to buy our own fruit,” I said to my wife, "and so can everybody we send comparable gifts to. What if we stop this practice?”

“How can we do that?” she asked, hopeful for a solution.

We decided to take the money we formerly spent on holiday gifts for professional friends and donate it to a local food pantry. We wrote notes to everybody on our list explaining what we were doing and asking them to do the same. I suggested that after a year or so, once everybody got the picture, we could even stop the notes and send the cost of paper and stamps to the charities.

We still get a few food baskets and send some gifts, but we aren’t overwhelmed by piles of overpriced oranges and chocolates anymore.

I began to share this idea with patients, especially those who complained they had a large gift list and very limited budget. Many of them have thanked me for the idea and said the letters they wrote to their families about making a choice to help those in need made the holidays more of what they were intended to be.

I invite you to step away from the materialism of the holiday season. Let’s feed and clothe those who need the essentials more than we need another scarf or fruitcake.