The holidays are a stressful time for most of us, I would wager. At least most people I know.
If you have financial trouble, nothing puts pressure on it like needing to buy a million gifts, travel, or make a time extra magical somehow for your kids. If you are far from your family or have little family, holidays will shine a spotlight right on that sore spot. Let’s say you have money- are your gifts thoughtful enough? If you spend too much, will you make them uncomfortable? Are your kids learning the right lessons about giving?
On and on, the anxious mind can spin.
Did your mother-in-law hate your turkey? Is your racist drunk uncle coming to the Christmas party where he will certainly pick a fight with you? Will your flight be canceled due to a blizzard and you’ll miss Christmas altogether?
And, for those of us who identify as introverts, my big question every year- how do I build in badly needed “me time” to the nonstop holiday celebrations?
I’ve read list after list of ideas for fighting the extra anxiety that the holidays bring. They usually include things like this:
- “Make sure you make time for workouts! Those endorphins will help bust through the gloom and keep you feeling great!”
- “Don’t go into debt to give gifts. Give something handmade, or just trust that being together with your family is the most important thing.”
- “Don’t go overboard hosting! Keep dinner simple and click THIS LINK for tons of inexpensive DIY decor!”
- “Teach your kids that giving is better than receiving. Volunteer, adopt a family in need, and encourage them to make gifts from the heart for teachers or friends.”
The brilliant “tips” go on like this, full of ways to put your mind at ease that you’re doing your very best.
None of these are bad ideas. Nothing wrong with them. But let’s get real for a second.
I’m busy. I’m even busier during the holidays. While a trip to Michaels, hours on Pinterest, and even more hours creating an “inexpensive handmade” gift might sound like a good way to save money on expensive items, swapping my credit card for a perfectly lovely present from a department store is way less stressful.
Will I make time for workouts? I hope! But, honestly, eating a vegetable or two and getting six hours of sleep might be about all the wellness I have time for some days.
Will showing up without a gift, encouraged that the “present of my presence” will be enough really make for a comfortable situation in most cases? Probably not, let’s face it.
There will likely be family drama. My jeans will likely get tighter. The kids will likely not have a perfect Hallmark Christmas full of lifelong lessons about the magic of giving and the evil that is constant consumerism. I hope to teach them gratitude, how little others have, and how fun it is to give someone a gift. Here’s hoping.
Here is my point: this year, I’m leaning in. I’m just accepting that this is going to be stressful. I’m sitting in it. I’m going to organize as best I can, and spend too much, and miss some things, and probably not work out enough. I might get high strung. I might have a meltdown. I might forget a gift until the last minute, or not get holiday cards out this year, or spend too much, or too little, or gain weight, or not get out of bed some days.
Will the world end because I didn’t wake up an hour early every day to do yoga? Will my family fall apart because we had to say “no” to some events and invites? Will my husband leave me because I didn’t create a Pinterest-worthy spread for a Christmas get-together?
Will I regret the credit card debt come January that will save me loads of time in December?
I don’t know. Maybe.
All I know is that I can’t do it all perfectly, and I can’t do it “imperfectly” perfectly, so, it’s not going to be perfect. It’s going to be real.
Try to stay present. Spend money if needed, don’t if it’s not necessary. Give myself a break. Constantly find reasons to be grateful and notice them as often as possible. Be prepared to fail some days, totally fail. Don’t miss the magic in the very small things, if you can help it.
This is my holiday plan, and probably just a decent plan for life, too. I constantly find that the best anxiety buster is accepting anxiety. It seems to dissipate once given into.
And, failing that, there is always, always wine.