This from the AP via CBSNews.com:

Nearly half of all women in the United States suffer from increased stress during the holidays, a condition that contributes to rising levels of comfort eating, drinking and other coping mechanisms that can lead to weight gain, according to a survey conducted in October by the American Psychological Association.

A national stress survey the association conducted in January showed one in four people in the United States agrees that “when I am feeling down or facing a problem, I turn to food to help me feel better.” The October survey showed that the proportion increases to one in three people during the holidays.

[…]

The holiday season is the most emotional time of the year for many Americans, particularly for women who often feel pressured to make it special to those they care about, said Sharon Gordetsky, a psychologist who specializes in children, families and issues of female development.

Even in families where fathers play a bigger role in parenting, child caring and household work, “women tend to often still do more of the planning, do more of the nurturing, do more of the social and family organization” for the holidays, said Gordetsky, an assistant professor at the Tufts-New England Medical Center’s Comprehensive Family Evaluation Center.

This article really covers multiple topics. The first is the title topic: stress eating. A second is holiday stress. A third is women’s role during the holidays.

I’d like to address the first topic by saying that stress eating is not much different than any other coping mechanism for stress and anxiety. Therefore, I think the findings of this study are rather obvious.

But I find the second and third topics more interesting. When my grandmother was alive, she was the central hub around which our family planned all holiday activities. She was the point-of-contact, the organizer, the procurement specialist, and an endless source of joy for all of us. When she died in 1995 of cancer, our lives changed permanently: the family stopped gathering at Thanksgiving and Christmas for our annual dinners. The phone ceased to ring as often. Our Christmas tree was virtually void of gifts. Eventually, the family nearly stopped talking altogether. In short, when my grandmother died, much of our family died with her.

In addition, I find the pattern somewhat repeating in my immediate family. To me, the holidays are a time when I want to relax. I feel as though I deserve to relax. My wife, on the other hand, sees it as a limited time offer to get everybody together at various points in various places to eat various meals and to, hopefully, have a cheery time. For me — and for many men — cheeriness is most often accompanied by silence. Yet women seem to be more social in their holiday goals which, in my opinion, creates loads of unnecessary stress.

So here I’m presenting two different pictures of the same phenomenon. In the first, my grandmother was the matriach who virtually created Christmas from her cheeky smile; in the second, my wife seems to run herself thin trying to make Christmas perfect when, in my opinion, a perfect Christmas is the one where I don’t have to leave my home.

What do you think?

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