Don’t make yourself crazy.
That’s it. That’s the #1 thing NOT to do if you want to enjoy the holidays.
Ask my friend Laurie.
Every January she says, “Next year I am NOT making myself crazy.”
And every year, beginning with Halloween, she makes Martha Stewart look like a slouch.
She decorates as if Southern Living is scheduled to come for a photo shoot, invests hours shopping for unique and creative gifts for family, friends, and co-workers, prepares mouth-watering meals, bakes enough to feed a small country, and whips herself into a house-cleaning frenzy.
And if that’s not enough, she has a long list of projects she plans to accomplish during the time she takes off between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
By January 2nd, she’s on the verge of a nervous breakdown and desperate for a vacation.
(Here’s the irony: she takes time off so she can enjoy the holidays!)
That might not be your crazy-making story but …
… we all have the potential for our own personal version of holiday madness.
My husband and I have an annual New Year’s Eve dinner party. The first year I did a fabulous job of turning myself into a lunatic, declining all offers of help and declaring with confidence, “We’ve got it handled!”
And we did. Except that I pretty much missed my own party since I never had a moment to breathe.
The second year, I “outsourced” the salad to a fantastic-salad-making friend. All our other guests got an assigned task. My fun factor skyrocketed, my friends loved pitching in, and this has become my new normal.
(Full disclosure requires me to admit that my inner control freak initially pitched a fit, but she got over it!)
Choose your version of holiday enjoyment.
What makes this time enjoyable for you? And what makes it stressful?
Make a list of both the fun stuff and the stressful stuff before Thanksgiving arrives. Then decide what choices you can and will make to maximize “enjoy” and minimize “stress.”
If your inner critic starts to give a lecture listing all the reasons you mustn’t change things, gently place him / her in a drawer until early January.
And if you can’t get his / her voice out of your head, write down the choices you want to make, list the trade-offs for each one (don’t forget to include your mental and emotional health), and choose what’s right for you.
I promise that the world won’t come to a screeching halt if you let go of holiday madness. In fact, you might even decide that your sane, enjoyable holiday experience will become your new normal.
“Life isn’t a matter of milestones but of moments.” ~ Rose F. Kennedy