Take the Frazzle out of the Festive Season
“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.”
Hamilton Wright Mabie
Every year there’s a beautiful evergreen scent that fills the house, and every year there’s a smell of fear and dread. With expectations come the responsibility of fulfilling them. Or you’re left with the fear of failing to meet them.
It’s a time to be merry, and a time to share with family and friends, but it doesn’t always go to plan. It’s taken me a while and many adventures to realize how to take the stress out of the holidays.
“As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December’s bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same.”
Donald E. Westlake
play the game
It’s easy to get caught up in life and how serious it all is. But it is the festive season so I get into the swing of things and let my hair down. Pull out the silly sweater, sing the cheesy songs and watch the Christmas Carol for the umpteenth time (with a smile). I’m not so rigid with tradition that I become the party spoiler to make clever points. So I welcome new technology, as it adds a new dimension to charades and after dinner games.
“Even though you’re growing up, you should never stop having fun.”
I manage my expectations to have some control, but if I try to live up to the expectations of others, then I end up out of control. If something unplanned happens I whisper ‘it is what it is’, get on with it, and do not dwell on it any longer than necessary.
be at peace before you start
I always have a contingency plan. I’ve learned from burned turkey, flopped dessert, electric blackouts, uninvited guests, fighting family, and severe weather, to have a plan B (C and D also help).
“Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind.”
David G. Allen
I try to stay as calm as I can before the festivities start. I double up on quiet nights in, good sleep and avoid the alcohol at least a week beforehand. I do things I enjoy, like taking a run or exercising to charge by batteries in advance. I like to think if there’s calm, there’s less chance of a storm.
i’m all lit up
It’s inevitable that there will be some kind of friction throughout the festivities. It’s the natural occurrence when bringing a crowd of people together once or twice a year.
“Step outside for a while — calm your mind. It is better to hug a tree than to bang your head against a wall continually.”
So instead of hitting the panic button I have different areas of the room (given my space limits) offering different things to do. When I see things overcooking or not cooking at all, I intervene and move people on. The party must go on.
presents or presence
It’s not the presents I wish to see each festive year, but the presence of my family and friends. So I gift without the fear of receiving in return. If you experienced a loss in your family or friends recently, like I have, it’s a time for being thankful and grateful.
“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
There’s nothing quite like death to focus my mind on living with purpose and intent. I always raise a smile to the long lost friends and family. I list the people that passed away this year, or who are in poor health so no one is forgotten. So there will always be a moment where I offer a prayer and express my thoughts to and for them. And for those unable to enjoy the festivities for any reason.
don’t over do it
I enjoy my food and a good dance whatever the occasion. But when it’s the year end festivities at stake, I like to push the boat out. And it’s not what you think. I have a way to keep sane throughout the whole time. Silly or not, I use the English nursery rhyme “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” as my holiday mantra. Here it is in case you forgot it:
Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream
When in times of need I pull this four-line Zanex (I don’t do drugs by the way) out of my pocket. Play it and sometimes do a jig to it, and smile. Never fails.
I smile with a boat-face and contemplate a life as merry as a dream.
“True contentment comes with empathy.”