Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Scaling Back for the holidays

Sometimes, you really have to reach deep, deep inside to find that positive place.  I put my "baby" (yes, he's 24 but will always be my baby) on a plane Monday and it sent me into a pretty big funk.  I came home and essentially hibernated for the entire evening.  The cold rain on Monday and even colder misty rain yesterday  didn't help.  Instead it made me want to just curl up in my shell and wallow.  Unfortunately (or fortunately), there just wasn't time as I had to get back to work yesterday whether I wanted to or not.

While I am not *completely* out of the blues- the residual effect will last through the holidays as I would love to have him with us for Christmas but the better part of it is gone.  I thought it might be a good idea to share my strategy in case you are feeling the holiday blues along with me.

1-  If you don't feel up to doing something- don't.  I don't know about you, but if I don't feel like socializing and I try to force myself to, it only serves to make me cranky.  It's kind of like when I am dealing with insomnia and someone wants me to do something that will take a lot of energy.  Not a good combination.  We know our own limits- we can't let anyone try to set them for us.

2-  All of the pressure that goes with the holiday?  Who needs it?  Fortunately we are not required by law to do it all.  Take a good look and see what you can let go of then then just do it!  For example, we spend the important part of the Christmas holiday with my parents.  Since we won't be here anyway- why decorate?  We haven't put up a tree in 2 years!  Though I love my tree (it's a New England Patriots tree!), the hassle of pulling out the decorations, putting it up, blah, blah- is aggravation that I didn't need- so, no big decorated tree.  The only thing that I missed was sitting in the dark and just looking at the lights.  That "problem" is solved because my folks gave us one of the thin, pre-lit, corner trees.  We can literally pull it out of the box , plug it in and go.  I don't feel the desire to put any additional anything on it, it will serve it's purpose as it is.

3-  Are you entertaining?  If so, can you cut back?  We, for many years, through a blow out Open House on Christmas eve.  I loved everything about it- I loved the planning, the preparation, the cooking, the company, everything but guess what!  I don't miss it at all.  In NOT doing it for the last few years I have realized that even though I loved it,  I really just added another layer to the stress.  If I have learned anything at all- I have learned that I don't have to go crazy over it.  If and when I go back to doing a holiday gathering- I will probably do something like an intimate cocktail party or maybe even a cookie exchange.  Scaling back won't  hurt a bit and it certainly helps when you already have a million things on your plate.

4-  It can be very easy during this time of the year to let ourselves get overwhelmed with all of the To-do's and must get's and lose sight of our blessings.  I look at all of the Black Friday madness and I see people who have forgotten to be thankful for what they have in the insanity of the moment.  One thing that I like to do (and the reason I missed my tree lights) is to turn off all of the lights and sit alone by the glow of the tree with a cup of coffee, hot chocolate or cider and think about all of the great things that I have in my life.  It  can really, really change your whole mindset when you take those stolen moments to give thanks for the people and the other blessings that we have been given.  It can take the stress away and give you a sense of peace that is essential to get through this crazy time of year.

5- Finally- whenever possible delegate or double up.  If you find a good store that you like or a particular theme for the holiday, you can get most of your gifts in one fell swoop.  If that's not possible, find out if a friend or family member is going to the places that you need to pick things up and ask them to get them for you (and offer to do the same in return).  It will save both of you time and energy.  Ask your partner or older child to create labels for your holiday cards and then write the notes in them while you are watching television or just relaxing.  There is no need to do a marathon card session when you can do a few at a time and toss them in the mail each day.  Gift bags are your friends rather than wrapping each gift.  If you have children, you can buy plain gift bags at the Dollar Store and have the kids decorate the bags- that will let you save money on gift wrap, include the kids in the process and provides a more personal looking gift for your recipient.

That's my list!  I will be employing most of these items to help me scale back and lessen the stress of trying to put together the "perfect" holiday!


Nan said...

I so understand what you related in your post and I have made many adjustments over the years with RA to scale back and you know what? I actually enjoy the holidays a lot more and most importantly I have more time to spend with my sons who are only home for few days. Great post.

Brigid Laurito said...

Very good advice! Your blog is great!