Do you find it comical that you can find all kinds of tips for having “stress free holidays?”

I know I do.

As I write this, I just finished reading an article in which the writer told me all the things I can do to avoid stress, such as ordering gifts online, or having things shipped to my door so I don’t have to get out and fight the traffic.

I also need to take time for myself and get plenty of rest.

I’ll be sure to keep all that in mind. The fact is, however, if I’m having to read something like that and consider those options, I’m already stressed. So, to all of the self-help writers, I would suggest, rather than your telling me how I might avoid stress (because, news flash: it’s inevitable), tell me how I might better handle it. And since I happen to have a forum, I’ll give you my thoughts on that.

On a personal level, we now have an immediate family of nine, which includes two grandsons who are 14 and 17 months old, respectively. All of the nine will be here over the next few days.

During that time, there will be family meals scheduled. The chances of everyone, including and especially those two grandsons, all sitting down at one of those meals more than, say, ten consecutive minutes, are slim. There will be lots of up and down. One or both of the little guys are likely to decide they’ve had enough sitting and might decide to demonstrate that.

That’s cool with me, and I hope the boys’ parents know we aren’t looking at them and thinking they should get a better handle on things. That’s what I always thought my parents were thinking when I was a young dad and my little angels’ halos were not shining as brightly as I might have wished they would.

I want my grandsons’ parents to know they are in a judgement-free zone and as grandparents, we are rolling with the punches and loving having them around.

One of my jobs is to prepare breakfasts while the family is here. There is a better than 90 percent chance one of the items I prepare will not come out as I wish it would. It’s also very likely I’ll drop something or spill something, and will want to say something that is not appropriate. My plan, rather than to try and keep this from happening (other than saying something inappropriate, which I plan not to do), is to lean into the stressful situation and see the humor in it. There will be no long-term consequences or permanent harm done because the omelet I’m making does not set as I would prefer. And chances are someone will still eat it.

In the very early morning, as in before daylight, one of the grandsons might decide he is ready to get up and get the day started long before anyone else in the house is ready to awaken. I’ll be glad to take that early morning duty. I’ll have plenty of time to sleep later, and who knows what cherished moments I might get to experience in those wee hours while his parents indulge themselves with peaceful rest?

We will sit down to open our Christmas gifts. Just like it will be with the meals, there is a high probability there will be very little continuous sitting. And I’m betting the grands, while they will love the bright colored packages and tearing into one or two to behold what’s inside, will be just as enamored with torn papers and boxes that will be scattered in abundance. Our family room will look like a storm has come through it after a mere few minutes.

And can you imagine how much fun that is going to be? Stressful? For heaven’s sake, yes, but why on earth would I want to miss a minute of it?

So enjoy the holidays, however you choose to celebrate.

But try not to go completely stress free. You might miss something really special.

Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy (and sometimes stressed) husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at

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