In the past week or two, I've spoken to several friends who are just completely overwhelmed by this season. Of course it isn't entirely about the holidays, but the season brings about a culmination of anxiety and stress.
We all do it. We agree to things that we know are going to be difficult to accomplish. Lots of those things can't be avoided. Somewhere in the middle of it all, we lose the ability to differentiate between the "musts" and the "maybes". We can't see the forest for the trees, and sometimes even stop looking.
When I was a child, most families had one parent who worked, and one parent who took care of the home and the children. It was not that way at our house, but most of my friends had that typical situation. When the holiday season rolled around, the mothers spent a lot of time on decorating the home, shopping, baking, and creating the whole fantasy. On a weekend soon after Thanksgiving, the father would get out the lights and the ladder and deck the house with lights before returning to the football fest indoors.
As times changed, we have not allowed ourselves the flexibility to recognize those changes. We still expect the same amount of preparation and magic even though the time to make it happen has vanished, leaving us feeling inadequate and lacking.
I'm not suggesting that we should give up the things we enjoy, but I am thinking that we need to give some serious thought to what we do because it is fun, and what we do because of some external and/or imagined pressure.
Here, we've run the gamut from the Total Christmas Experience to pushing the whole season back a month because we couldn't manage it. Neither of those really work for us. The first makes us grouchy and stressed, the other feels sad and empty. Somewhere in the middle is the perfect blend.
I've found that what we "need" to feel happy and festive is:
*One day spent shopping at quaint shops for quirky little gifts with the kid.
*One mad dash around with my sister.
*One batch of cookies baked with the kid.
Everything else is extraneous. If it happens, great. If it doesn't, that's also fine. The best part is that by paring down the list of "musts", we find more time for extras without feeling like we're doing it because we have to. Then the extras really are fun!
I'm wishing you all a season filled with genuine fun, joy, peace and love.
And the ability to say no.