What does your calendar look like in the month of December? Chances are it is pretty full with holiday parties, school concerts, dinners, and the like. If you have kids, and those kids are in activities, there are probably several celebrations planned; “fun” tournaments, dance recitals, and myriad holiday extras that can make even the most extroverted of us feel like curling up on the couch with a bottle of wine and Netflix.
Add all these forced jollities together with the invitations to potlucks and cookie exchanges in which you’re expected to bring a delectable homemade treat, plus the pressure we put on ourselves to have a beautifully perfect holiday, and you have yourself the makings of a Clark Griswold-esque breakdown.
Holy shit, where’s the Tylenol, indeed?
People, it doesn’t have to be that way. The holidays are a time for celebration, for family and food and love. They aren’t meant to be a catalyst for a nervous breakdown. Nobody wants to find themselves locked in the bathroom, chugging the mulled wine and crying about the little lights that are not twinkling.
Let’s take back the holidays, shall we? Let’s become a little more jolly and a little less Grinch-y, with these steps:
Of course you want to focus on giving, sharing, and spreading the holiday spirit, but you cannot do this if you are not looking after yourself. Take the time to get the sleep you need, to exercise, and to have some much-needed downtime during this busy time of year. You are JUST as important as everyone else, so be sure to show yourself the kindness that you show others.
Categorize all the invitations and celebrations on your calendar by the following type: Must Do, Want To Do, Feels Like A Chore. Then send regrets. Believe me, your three-year-old will never remember that you missed the four-hour pageant and cookie exchange. Remember that it’s okay to say no, especially when your sanity is at stake.
Just as you cannot attend absolutely everything in the month of December, neither can you DO everything. Some of us are blessed with cookie decorating gifts and can make magazine worthy gingerbread houses. Others of us end up with this:
And you know what? That’s okay. Not everything needs to be Pinterest-worthy. We are always harping on our children about how appearances are secondary and it’s what’s inside that counts, so let’s walk the walk. It doesn’t have to look perfect. Let go of those expectations. Hell, if you want a perfect looking cookie, go to your local bakery. Or, let your children decorate them, so you can end up with precious treasures like this:
Clearly the appearance of my gingerbread is unimportant to me, but there are a lot of things that are; those things I make time for and expend a lot of effort on. For me, that’s holiday cards; I love choosing the perfect photo and font, writing out notes and addresses, and mailing them out. For you, maybe it is making a beautiful gingerbread house, or hosting the neighbourhood open house. Figure out what is important to you and own it. Make time for it and savor every minute of it. And remember: what’s important to you may not be important to anyone else, and that’s a-okay.
Nothing says “Holiday Breakdown” like a person who has been subsisting for days on appetizers, shortbread, and Bailey’s. Eat decent meals at decent times, be sure to up your water intake to compensate for the holiday cheer you’ve been drinking, and don’t forget those fruits and vegetables! It’s vital to get your vitamins to stave off all those viruses that are milling around the holiday gatherings.
Let’s face it, your children will not likely remember if you forgot to move your Elf on the Shelf, if you forewent the gingerbread house, or if you sent them to the school cookie exchange with a box of candy cane-flavoured Oreos. But they will remember if you have a screaming, sobbing meltdown over those things. There are no prizes here, people. This isn’t Top Gun and there isn’t a plaque down the hall in the Ladies’ Room. Take a moment to look around you and appreciate what you have and where you are, and let the stress of the season melt into warmth and happiness.
And maybe pour yourself a glass of cheer, too. Just remember to chase it with water.