We’re about to head into the busiest time of the year, the one where our time, money and attention is pulled in the most directions. Some people love it, others hate it, I’m mostly in the love it camp but I think that’s because I put limits on it. First and foremost we have to realize that this isn’t a happy time for everyone so if you meet resistance, don’t push or at least push carefully. Religious or not, Christmas or something else, the holidays can and should be a magical time of year. So if you feel really stressed, pressured or spread way too thin it’s time to do some thinking and pare back.
Christmas for me and especially for honey hasn’t always been an easy time, that’s probably true for most of us at one point. When I was in school and for a few years after I just didn’t have the cashflow to buy everyone a present. In grad school I decided to just tell people that before hand and opted to make cookies or host a lunch picnic in my lab instead. Some years I have the cash to go all out and other years it’s got to be more modest and you know what people get that. I also make it a point not to get into the habit of expanding who I give presents to. As a kid the handmade pillows and mobiles that one aunt made me every year were SOO much cooler than the Cheques. If someone isn’t okay with your handmade gift made special for them then that’s their problem not yours. So don’t fall into the trap of spending money or time you don’t really have to appease someone else. Truthfully if you just level with them and say ‘since it really is the thought that counts let’s skip presents this year and make it a point to share lunch together in the new year instead’ they’ll probably be relieved as well.
The next issue is being able to set boundaries and say I’ve thought about it and I’m doing this anyway if you need to. If you’ve thought about it and for really good reasons which you don’t have to share, something is not good for you feel free to skip it. If you always visit family but this year you want to stay home that’s okay. If you want it to be just your family on Christmas morning that’s okay too. If everyone else is okay with big gatherings and you’re not yet, that’s totally understandable for this year too. Some years we’re swamped right up to Christmas eve and it’s hard to even get the decorations out and I’m chasing down the last tree in the city. Those years I just have to say no to all the holiday parties but that doesn’t mean I won’t happily attend next year. Sure there are some things you might not be able to get out of and I’m always a fan of compromise if possible but it’s okay to take care of yourself at this time of year too.
This weekend take some time to think about how the holidays have made you feel last years and in the years of the before times. It can feel like this is beyond your control but it really isn’t. Set out to be more intentional this year about what you agree to do whether that’s more or less. If you don’t think about it now in a week or two the cheer train will have already left the station!