Slow Down for Christmas, ten tips for a happier Christmas.
There is so much going on...
At Christmas time we have the office party, the Christmas tree, the Christmas decorations (inside and out), the snow, the car, the kids school parties, the kids parties, the eggnog, the dinner menu, the Christmas parties, the neighborhood gatherings, the gift exchanges, the ………HOLD IT! When do we get a chance to take a breath and actually enjoy the Christmas season? I’ll tell you when, when we make ourselves take the time, or when we finally go to bed Christmas Day, whichever comes first, right?
Take the time to have another cookie and maybe a cup of hot cocoa.
Here is the first thing you might try...
Take a few moments for yourself every day!!!!!!! At the end of a hectic day, don’t forget to reward yourself for all the things you did get accomplished. Pour a glass of your favorite wine and sip it while you watch a favorite Christmas show. Fill the tub with your favorite herbal mix and soak for a bit. Take that extra cookie you wanted, what they hey, you’ll work it off tomorrow when you take on the marathon gift buying, right? Or, just take a deep breath and look at what you have done. Smile, you did it! Now relax for the night! Psssssttt, if you didn't get everything you wanted completed today, there is always tomorrow (and the neighbor who is always asking if they can help with anything, sorry I got carried away).
Everyone needs the most expensive thing on their want list, right?
Wrong! Gifts are supposed to show how much you care for a person, not how much money you have to spend. Get what you want to get for the person and smile. If they don’t like it, they can exchange it (or sell it or give it to the dog to play with, LOL ). It’s the thought that’s supposed to count and you put thought in your gift purchase, right? Okay, so you don’t like Uncle Joe because he drinks too much and always stumbles against you with foul breath, but that set of PJ’s will fit him just right (especially the Beer Logo). And Little Sarah really does like those electronic gadgets, but you know she’ll play about four hours and then go back to the TV, so maybe a big pillow she can lay on while watching TV would be better. Get things they will use, not things they want just because the Jone’s have them. Also, try to remember last year's gifts. If Uncle Jack gave everyone a card with a dollar in it (like he does every year), then why would you buy him an expensive gift? Try the second hand stores for something nice but inexpensive.
Do you ask for help or do you go it alone?
Don't go it alone
Involve the kids and spouse in the frantic preps. Get the spouse involved in hanging up the decorations. Let the kids wrap some of those gifts (they won’t be perfect, but they will be wrapped). Get the spouse to make a few purchases. Let the kids help with the cleaning and baking (yeah, the house gets a bit floury, but the kids have fun). You can even get family to help. If you are hosting the dinner this year, why can’t some of those coming make some of the dishes, or help clean up for the gathering?
Try to make arrangements for several to arrive early so they can help you finish the last minute cooking and table arrangements. See if they will bring extra chairs if needed, or even an extra table or two. Let them help with the work.
Keep things simple.
You don’t have to wax the floors of the basement, or straighten the garage, or clean out your cupboards. You don’t have to roast a 30 pound turkey for 12 guests. You don’t have to make 12 desserts. And you don’t have to make 6 side dishes. Don't worry about whether your tree is decorated enough or if you a big enough wreath on the door. Do things you like and rest. If they don't like what you did, smile and tell them that they are welcome to do it for you next year
Did everyone ask for a special something they say they need or it just wouldn't seem like the holiday? Let them bring it. Don’t break your neck trying to figure out how to make a "grits delight " for Uncle Josh because he likes it. Let him make and bring it to share with the rest of the family (though why anyone would want something like that is beyond me). Just because you are hosting, doesn't mean you are a chef. You make what you would normally make and specials are up to the guests.
You might also try telling them they might not get dessert if they continue to cause trouble. Another thought.
You are the host, not the referee
Don’t stress over who will sit where! Let them make up their own minds. If Uncle Sassaphrass doesn’t want to sit next to Aunt Jessiah then he/she can go to the other side of the table and sit with Geraldine and George from down the street. Okay, maybe that’s a bit exaggerated, but this is a holiday and fights and disagreements should be left at the door. A good way to get your point across is to have one of your outside tables pulled close to the window (outside) and decorated with a tablecloth and a centerpiece. Tell anyone who makes trouble that they will have to eat out there is they don't settle down. Just a thought.
Having dinner alone this year? Go get that cheesecake or whatever else you like, settle down in your favorite chair with a glass of wine and watch your favorite movies. Oh, and don't forget to buy yourself a present.
Stress, stress, stress, is there enough food?
Did you get enough food? Did you make enough gravy? Did you peel enough potatoes? You did! Even if you only made enough for everyone to have a taste, you made enough. The Holiday dinner isn’t a huge restaurant buffet for the family to graze on for the whole day, it’s a family gathering and meal. When all is said and done, they will enjoy themselves even if they can only pick on a carrot or slice of turkey. It’s the gathering that makes the difference. Make that special for everyone by having them bring their memories with them to discuss while final dinner preps are being done. Or have everyone bring a special gift for an exchange. You can have everyone sing Christmas Carols (yes they still do that) around the tree or in front of the fire. You could really make a difference and have them go outside to the front yard and sing to the carols on tape or DVD for all the neighbors. Don't stress about the food.
PS: While you are making all that food, be sure to make your favorite dish, even if you are the only one who will eat it. You are making the dinner, so you have the right to put your favorite dish on the table.
Have a real Holiday!
Enjoy yourself! I can not stress that one enough. If you are doing something that is upsetting you, then don’t do it. Don’t host Christmas this year, let someone else have the honor. Don’t put up a huge tree, go out and buy a pre-decorated small one that sits on the coffee table if that’s what you want. Don’t decorate the yard this year, you don’t have to outdo the Jones’s every year, let them spend the money on the latest and greatest, you have gifts to buy. And don’t worry about whether anyone will like what you have done. It’s Christmas, a time for family. Stressing over the gifts, the meals, the gathering and the decorations just is not worth it! When it comes right down to it, the holiday is not a time for you to make everyone else happy. It is a time for EVERYONE, including yourself, to be happy. And let’s face it, if anyone is going to be unhappy about something, they will be whether you went out of your way for them or not. My favorite way to enjoy the holiday is to sit near the tree and drink cocoa while watching a movie.
© 2011 Cheryl Simonds