Saturday I was in Walmart running a few errands while I was on a 2 hour shift break. While I was almost surprised and amused by my reaction, I was shocked that the Christmas decorations are already out.
I have a love/hate relationship with the holiday season, and I say holiday simply because from Halloween to New Years is a string of holidays. As a kid I loved the family togetherness and the food of Thanksgiving and Christmas. As a college student I longed for the family togetherness. As an adult, Christmas and Thanksgiving never seem to quite live up to what I hope them to be.
I long for simpleness for the warmth of loving atmosphere…what I typically get is stress. Stress because this could be the last Christmas with my mom. Stress because this Christmas has to be bigger and better than last year. Stress because of family tension and internal conflicts between warring fractions.
This performance stress, holding down tradition stress makes me feel more like the Grinch than it makes me feel holly-jolly. It’s no surprise that alcohol consumption during the holidays go up, as does spending and food consumption.
For several years now I’ve had the theory that there is a link between overeating, over spending, too much alcohol. That link is emotional, emotions, and suppressing our reactions.
Instead of taking our emotions out reviewing them speaking life and truth over them – we stuff them. We stuff them with food and spending and drinking…anything we can do in a vain attempt to numb out and be absent in our own lives.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
What does it really matter? Who cares really if you don’t eat Sister Sally’s newest recipe. Or if you eliminate a few dozen appearance that are meaningless gestures? What if we substitute quantity with quality?
It’s a few weeks before Thanksgiving. Now’s the time to draw lines, make a healthy holiday plan and rework our schedules to put some sanity in it.
This year I’ve determined to do things differently. This year, while my plan might not work for everyone, it works for me. I want simple. I want the essence of a childhood holiday season – sans stress.
Back in August I determined this year could not be like this year. I needed less stress, less tension, less spending, less calories/eating. Before I got to the emotional whiplash the holiday season brings I wanted a “sanity” plan.
This year my plan includes more time with the people I care most about. So I’m taking my parents to dinner, to the Dallas Arboretum, and to a restaurant my dads always wanted to go to. I’m spending less on gifts, and instead giving my time my presence instead of presents. I’m limiting my time spent at work parties and extended family gatherings. My gifts to family, friends and coworkers will be hand crafted lotions and lip balms, not expensive but from the heart.
I’m doing simple things, I’m celebrating the season. I’m spending time with people that matter the most to me. I’m not going to allow other people’s issues, problems, phobias, or baggage to dampen and drown out my holiday cheer.
Will my family still act crazy? Yes. Will there still be stress? Yes. Will I be able to control everyone’s actions & reactions? No. But, I can control me. I can’t control the crazy, but crazy doesn’t need to control me or ruin my holidays.