Tis the season for beautiful twinkle lights and fancily-wrapped presents… A time to celebrate the joy of giving and count one’s blessings whilst surrrounded by those we hold dear. Yet for many people… Tis the Season of Overcommitment. Overcommitment of time. Overcommitment of money. Overcommitment of energy. Overcommitment of worry and resources.
Years ago, for me, this used to be (sing it with me, you know the tune) … The Most Stre-ess-ful Time of the Year… They’ll be much over-charging and customers barging for the Greatest Deal… Yes the most Stre-ess-ful Time of the Year!
I know it doesn’t exactly rhyme, but I think you get the idea.
In two words: It sucked. There were cards to be sent… Shopping to be done… Pageants to rehearse… Concerts and live nativities and office parties and gatherings with friends and gatherings with family to attend… Obscene amounts of food and wine and chocolate followed by more obscene amounts of food and wine and chocolate to be consumed… and before I knew it I didn’t know what was buldging more… The bags under my eyes, my muffin top over my favorite pair of jeans or my Visa envelope come January.
I am now on a personal mission—you might say—to restore the joy and peace that is, by the way, SUPPOSED to be the purpose of the season in the first place by ridding myself of the commitments, obsessions and stresses that typically accompany holiday-related things.
I don’t send cards. My friends and family don’t need to hear me paint a far-prettier-than-reality picture of my life by reading some fluffed-up letter full of superlatives and exclamation points.
I set limits on gifts and I stick to them. And when in doubt about what to give to my seven (COUNT THEM… S-E-V-E-N) nieces and nephews… money is always a safe bet — and an amount of money that I can actually afford as well.
I don’t do pageants. Someone else can stay up until midnight every night for the three weeks leading up to Christmas and sing the solo. I’m done. I much prefer the sleep. I might attend the pageant… if I feel like it.
I choose carefully the events that I commit to. At 36, I am beginning to understand my physical and mental limits when it comes to the amount of myself that I have to “spread around.” If I feel too thinly spread. I just say no.
The food, wine and chocolate… OK… THOSE are OK. They are called “coping mechanisms” and that’s why I’ve learned to keep a larger size of jeans in the closet. That can be our little secret. Let’s just call it Christmas Grace, shall we?
Please don’t misunderstand. I am not a scrooge or anti-holiday. I do find infinite joy in lounging on the couch and staring at the twinkle lights on the tree late at night while watching Cousin Eddie slurp egg nog from a moose cup in his black dickie / white sweater combo on National Lampoons Christmas Vacation…
I do find infinite peace in closing my eyes during the Christmas Eve candlelight service while the soloist (who isn’t me) sings my favorite Christmas Hymn, Oh Holy Night…
And I absolutely find infinite enjoyment in watching my nieces and nephews glow as they show me their loot on Christmas morning with all the excitement they can possibly muster after only four hours of sleep.
But just in case you DO see me at a party or pageant or family gathering this holiday season, please do me one solid favor… and spike my drink already. Trust me, it’s really best for all of us.