I spent Thanksgiving Day in Columbus with my whole family. As expected on this holiday, there was way too much to eat and drink. Fully stuffed and thankful, we got back on the road and headed toward Cincinnati. We passed the outlet mall at about 10:00pm and were shocked (or maybe not so shocked) to see the crowded parking lot and the policeman controlling the heavy traffic. There was a long line of cars that snaked around the ramp just off the freeway. Are there really that many people that want to go shopping at 10:00 at night? Are they afraid they’re missing out if they wait until the next day?
THE HOLIDAY SEASON IS HERE!
I know there are many people that would call what I witnessed “a good time”, but it looked extremely stressful and tiring to me. I find the long lines, hurried impatient people, and the inability to find a parking space way too much for my taste. It all reminds me of just how stressful this season can be. In lieu of this phenomenon, I’ve worked on a few suggestions that you might find helpful.
If you strive to make the holiday festivities perfect, beware: that idea is not rooted in reality.
I gave up this belief many years ago. Often, we get stuck on giving the perfect gift or the hosting perfect holiday dinner. One little thing goes wrong, and the whole day is ruined. Our expectations are often out of kilter considering the true importance of the situation. Here’s a secret— our loved ones don’t need things perfect. For example, my sister had Thanksgiving at her house. She was stressed because she had just broken her ankle and wouldn’t be able to do everything. She whispered to me, “I might buy some prepared foods at the grocery store”. She viewed this as a real failure and felt guilty and stressed. I reminded her that it didn’t matter; all that mattered was that we had dinner together. No, it wasn’t perfect, but it was still a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Just having traditions is more important than what they actually entail. Don’t get stressed out and stuck on the thought that your traditions have to be grandiose. You would be surprised at what people end up remembering in life. I have adult kids, and they end up fondly remembering some of the rituals that seemed so miniscule to me. What’s important is that your family has some rituals, spends quality time together and tries to make it fun.
Don’t try to compete with memories or the way it “should be”.
Chances are, you remember some things from the past that you want to repeat for your family. Here’s a little hint about memories: sometimes we remember them a little different than how they actually happened. Refrain from trying to compete with past holidays— they may never be able to measure up. Live in the NOW and enjoy your time with family and friends in the present.
Take time for You during this holiday season.
This is probably the most important thing you can do. During this time, you’re focused on everyone else BUT you. The parties, the shopping, and all the family get-togethers will wear on you. Now and then, take a few minutes and do some soul searching. Tap into your emotions and see how you’re feeling. Do you need some time alone to decompress? Take part in whatever activity it is that helps you get grounded and centered again: walking, listening to music, or reading. Listen to You and heed the warning when your body and soul say, “I need a time-out!”
Do me a favor. Please try to enjoy these next few weeks— minus the stress. Make this the best holiday season ever.