It's really hard not to get caught up with the holiday season. Thanksgiving is fairly simple; the menu is the same each year, you're a pro at getting things done. The hardest part is getting everyone to sit down at the same time and eat and eat and eat.
Christmas is different. It starts at the end of the Thanksgiving parade, with 'Santa Claus is coming to town' as the last balloon float. The very next day, Black Friday, hordes of shoppers are at the stores or cyber shopping on the net and Christmas has begun and it's not even December first. Stress is showing it's distorted face already.
It's easy to wig out during this season. There's decorations to hang and greeting cards to write out. We say every year - no cards this year - but change our tune upon the arrival of the first one in the mail. 'Ohh, we have to send them one.' Holiday get togethers begin as early as December 3rd or 4th since some folks go out of town or travel for the holiday, so your calendar is quickly filled up - until January 1st.
Gift lists are made up and that takes some time in selecting 'wish gifts' within your budget. There are office parties, club parties, church gatherings and concerts, school activities, until you are feeling really bogged down. To keep up with all the activity, you're not sleeping long enough, you're snacking on early-sent Christmas cookies and you're feeling sluggish. The house needs an overhaul, the church is asking you to bake for their bake sale on Sunday - could you make those wonderful takes-two-days-to-make cookies? The school is having a Christmas play ;the kids are all excited about it and it's on the same day as the grab bag Club luncheon.
It's easy to get overloaded and stressed out. And that's the last thing you want to do. After all, it's the holidays and you're supposed to be enjoying them.
Lower your expectations of what you want done and what you will do. Try not to fill up every day with an 'event' or 'date'. You need time to regroup and you want to enjoy what you do. It's easy to feel obligated to return an invitation or 'it's your turn to have it at your house', but sometimes you need to:
Learn to say "NO" to urgent requests to do things outside of the home. You have enough going on in there. The person may be overloaded and wants to delegate to you to help them. And speaking of that word....
Delegate within your family the chores needed to be done at home. Pull names out of a hat if you have to, but someone could help decorate, another could put up the tree, one can shop for groceries, others can help clean the house, bake, write out cards - it is a family holiday and everyone can help out, but remember to.....
Stay positive; getting a negative attitude or being crabby will make everyone disappear and if you want them to help, and you can....
Plan itineraries with the family and figure out who will be where and when. Put a calendar on the fridge with 'mandatory' dates to be home if family or company is expected and.....
If company is coming overnight, plan for them way before they get there. Get their room ready and if they cancel at the last minute....
If the unexpected happens, try not to worry things you have no control over. Life happens. With any extra time made by cancellations,
Prepare some meals beforehand and freeze them for unexpected events or company.
Some personal tips:
Exercise. Even 10 minutes of walking or dancing a day can benefit your mood and health.
Try to eat nutritional food. Don't snack on fat and sugar foods.
Rest during the day if you can - or better yet, take a 15 minute siesta. Or just close your eyes and be still. And try to get 7 - 8 hours of sleep each night.
While working around the house, put on your favorite music - or holiday music. That will keep you upbeat.
Consider buying everyone gift cards - people love them - and it's a whole lot easier on your stamina of running around warm, stifled stores and then out into the cold. The flu is out there and around us.
If you HAVE to buy something personal, the internet is great - and it is delivered right to your door.
Remember, Less is More. The less you have to do, the more you will enjoy yourself. Don't knock yourself out. The holidays weren't meant to see how much money we all spend on each other, or to outdo everyone on the block with our lights and decorations. They weren't meant to stuff everyone with 20 varieties of cookies or have 30 people over for dinner (unless that's your thing). Simplify your life - have small gatherings and really enjoy the people you are entertaining. It's hard to have conversations with 30 guests while your juggling all that food to serve them. Share yourself with your company and make memories.
Christmas is a feeling, a sharing, a loving and giving time. Wrap that thought around you and celebrate the Reason for the Season.
© Marie Coppola Revised November 2014