Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I’m Dreaming of a Stress-free Holiday

By Suzanne Kashuba

Ahhh … the holidays. Traditions sure have changed.

If Currier and Ives were alive today, would they illustrate the Black Friday crowd at Walmart instead of idyllic horse and carriage scenes?

I know it’s the season to be jolly, but that’s tough when traffic jams and multiplying “To Do” lists are far more prevalent than mistletoe or chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

Currier_IvesI’d love to hire a personal elf, but, hey, they’re busy too these days.

What’s a harried 21st-century multi-tasker to do? Here are three ways I’ve found to make the holidays brighter (and a bit less stressful).

Give Back

Have each member of your family (or work group) research a favorite cause or charity. Then hold a meeting where each pitches his or her best idea for a combined contribution. Vote on the winner and then either donate time or money (or both) – together.

WNED participates in the AIDS Community Services’ “Adopt-a-Family” program, giving gifts -- along with hope, joy and a sense of stability -- to a family facing the harsh reality of HIV/AIDS.

Any nonprofit will appreciate whatever you can give. You might want to check with the United Way for some ideas. But be sure your selection represents a cause your group is truly passionate about – whether that’s a health-related foundation, an arts organization or your local parks system.

Enjoy NatureTifft_mound_skyline

Speaking of parks, nature is a spiritual gift to be enjoyed regardless of the season. I always find a quiet, contemplative joy in natural, wintertime settings, especially when I bring the camera along and take the time to observe closely. One of my favorite spots is Tifft Nature Preserve just south of downtown Buffalo, where you can walk trails, climbs mounds, take in awesome views of hulking grain elevators, and get right up close to the friendly, resident deer. Tifft_GE_BW

If you’d rather not bundle up and brave the cold, there’s some eye-popping nature programming on television, perfectly suited to those brilliant HD TV sets. One of the best is PBS’s “Nature” series (airing Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on WNED-TV).

Christ_Yellow_bisonThe dramatic “Christmas in Yellowstone” episode airs Dec. 21 at 8 p.m. on WNED-TV. The national park’s vistas and geological wonders are stunning in winter. But the animals are the real “stars:” bison, red foxes, wolves, elk and a grizzly bear with her newborn cubs.


Savor the Music

There’s no doubt about it: holiday music – whether campy, jazzy or deeply inspirational – is downright infectious. And there’s nothing like it to get me in the spirit. I think all the big-box stores and malls should require customers to sing (something like “Let There Be Peace on Earth”) before they officially open for business during the holidays.

“Let There Be Peace on Earth”

The Western New York area offers a wealth of live holiday concerts -- many for free or low cost. At St. Paul’s Cathedral in downtown Buffalo, the Girls Choir will perform “A Ceremony of Carols” during a free Friday recital on Dec. 16. The dynamic a cappella ensemble, Harmonia (one of my favorites) will perform two Christmas concerts at area churches.

Of course, some of the best holiday music comes directly to your living room from WNED-TV. This season’s exceptional line-up includes:


Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Featuring David Archuleta and Michael York

Dec. 24 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 25 at 3 p.m. on WNED-TV

Holiday spectacular concert airs Dec. 24 & 25 on WNED-TV.


Pop sensation David Archuleta of “American Idol” fame and Grammy Award nominee Michael York join the renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir in an energetic celebration of magnificent proportion. Elegant dancing … masterful performances … storytelling … and more!


Christmas Carols with the Priests

Dec. 24 at 9 p.m. and Dec. 25 at 4 p.m. on WNED-TV

The Priests [Fathers Eugene and Martin O'Hagan (brothers) and Father David Delargy] bring the festive season alive with a collection of holiday favorites — delivered with a " little priestly twist." This ultra-talented trio earned the Guinness World Record for "fastest-selling UK debut for a classical act" in 2008.

Watch a snippet of a previous performance at St. Paul’s Basilica in Toronto.

The Priests perform in a Christmas special on Dec. 24 & 25 on WNED-TV.


Christmas Concert from Norway

Dec. 24 at 10 p.m. and Dec. 25 at 5 p.m.

A festive holiday tradition continues from Norway.

This festive concert of holiday and traditional classical music from an historic church in Norway has become an international tradition. The concert features world-renowned musicians:

-  Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman, who delighted millions when she sang at the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Olympics;

-  Siblings Mari and Håkon Samuelsen, superb young musicians and organizers of this annual event; and

-  the Grammy-nominated Trondheim Soloists.

So enjoy the holidays! And remember to unwrap the really important gifts.

What’s your one best tip for relieving holiday stress?

1 comment:

  1. Great news, The Priests are back! But the big questions is "Are they hearing confessions, too?" Forgive my little joke, but if previous PBS concerts are any indication, this should be a festive special for the holidays. Enjoy!