Every family has its own holiday traditions: food traditions, giving traditions, decorating traditions, party traditions and more. Some go to church Christmas Eve or Christmas morning, while others just make a lot of pancakes and drink a lot of eggnog, or maybe even eat Chinese food and go to see a movie. Some spend the holidays with close family and others have huge family parties with enough food to satisfy even the biggest eaters.And as times change, traditions may change, too. A live Christmas tree may give way to a prelit, synthetic Christmas tree. Homemade and hand-mixed cookies may give way to "break-and-bake," pre-mixed cookies. Holiday shopping before Black Friday turns into frantic, last minute, stressful shopping trips to an overcrowded mall.

It seems as the years go by, we have less opportunities to slow down and spend the time we would like on the things that matter. Whole days of holiday cooking and baking give way to quick meals that are microwaved and pre-packaged, thanks to crazy work schedules and holiday travel. We get less time off to spend with families and instead, we work until the last possible minute for an extra few bucks in the bank account.

When everything seems to cost so much, it's hard not to think that putting in longer hours and more overtime than your body and mind seems able to handle could mean a less financially stressful holiday season. But that's not always the case. The holidays are supposed to be a relaxing time of the year that we spend with the people we care about, and since we're always so "go-go-go" during the rest of the year, we shouldn't feel guilty about putting the normal stresses behind us to enjoy time with friends and family. We all got excited this time of year when we were kids, so why not let ourselves get just as excited and de-stressed now?

Get the shopping done ahead of time. Perhaps even make some gifts yourself. Put in longer hours at work-if you feel it's absolutely necessary-ahead of time. Spend a day baking and decorating cookies with the kids. Don't check your e-mail. Put your cell phone on silent. Rekindle old traditions that may have slipped through the cracks and create new ones.

Just don't let anything interrupt your holiday season when you can actually find a chance to enjoy it.

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