As I create a list of holiday chores, I must remember to pace myself. During the seasonal whirlwind, it is too easy to over commit. I used to envision creating a mellow version of the Martha Stewart home; with baked goods for neighbors, and hand decorated wrapping paper on all presents. But, it was no fun for anyone when I was worn out, crabby, or bossy trying to accomplish those magazine qualities. It turns out that crabby puts a damper on festivities. I must remind myself, Martha has a staff!
Years ago, the first thing to trim from my holiday worries was the tree. I wondered if I should get one to be recycled by the city and turned into mulch for park pathways; or, get a live one and plant it afterwards. I pondered the location of my shovel and where to plant the tree. I knew that if it were planted by the fence, it might eventually block the sun on my flower bed. Most importantly, I had concerns about hauling a tree with my Prius. I might never get the pine needles out of my car.
You see the way my mind works. I finally realized my house was simply too small for a Christmas tree. I now delight in the simplicity of my beautiful 30” silver foil tree, perched on a side table. I deeply enjoy its retro elegance.
I have learned not to overcommit. I know I am deluded to think I can make unique ornaments or cookies for everyone on the block; or, if I plan to go to six parties scheduled for the same time. Another insight is that I cannot lure teens away from their electronic devices simply by buying fun activity oriented presents. I noticed that when I did, while I paid off the credit card on unused games, I felt the tiniest bit of irritation. Resentment and exhaustion inevitably leak out onto those I am presumably “doing favors for,” and onto those dearest to me.
I now marginally realize I can only accomplish a short to-do list and I also ask others for help. I have found that a holiday’s perfect presentation, and/ or the credit card debt created, can destroy the spirit of any event or season. And, the most precious part of the whole season is the time spent together.
This year, join me and Stop Seasonal Shame and Obligational Guilt from following us like cartoon storm clouds, and acknowledge that:
Certain things that “define graciousness and polite behavior” are virtually impossible to accomplish.
Let’s try to:
- Find compassion and time for ourselves
- Decide what we can take off holiday to-do lists
- Ask everyone for help
- Let loved ones know we care in other ways–without giving our blood, sweat, or tears
- Spare ourselves and others the stress of our own stress, and simplify