I always get a little wistful/weepy/whelmed at this time of year. Part of it is how I'm wired, and part of it is that it's just too much: too much to do, see, eat, buy, wrap, spend, plan. What should be repeatedly bumps up against what is. While I've made my peace with the fact that life is not like a Hallmark commercial, I do often long for the calm that is depicted (or manufactured, as the case may be)--happy kids, toasty fire, darling retriever.
Single moms can feel stretched even thinner than usual this time of year, not to mention stressed over commitments, finances, their kids' well-being, etc. For many years, I fell into a bad pattern of trying to really whip things into a froth for my daughter, so as to mitigate the fact that her parents were divorced. While I couldn't pull it off financially speaking (simply because we didn't have it), I did try really hard to "make some Christmas magic" on numerous occasions and, frankly, burned myself out: My wild activity added little to my daughter's well-being, and her lack of appreciation for my holiday gymnastics left me a tinge--how shall we say??--resentful.
I've learned to scale back--to lay out my mind's plans (usually terribly unrealistic) and cut them by about two-thirds. I push myself to call friends, especially other single moms, when I'm feeling lonely and loser-like for not pulling off the Traditional American Holidays (As Seen On TV). I ask myself regularly (like I did my daughter when she was young) Are you hungry? Thirsty? Tired? and then--what a concept!!--I try to take care of those basic needs. It's astounding how much more doable life becomes with a little protein and a 20-minute nap.
There's much we can do to make the season easier...the bulk of which happens inside us. How have you learned to de-stress the holidays?