If you're like me, each year around the holidays you scream out loud--to no one in particular--"It's too early for Christmas! I'm not ready!"
But it doesn't matter if you're ready or not, the stores are ready, and out come their holiday decorations. They begin with the trick-or-treat items, extend that to pumpkins and fall leaves, and then out they bring the REAL holiday decorations: colorful glass bulbs, long silver streamers, tall fake firs or pines, live poinsettias, and dozens and dozens of bows. Once again, it's time for Christmas, and I'm not ready.
This never changes.
I'm rarely ready for the holidays. By the time they come and go, I'm always wondering when I'll have time to prepare. I get through it, but I always wonder how.
Commercialism always gets the best of me. I wind up spending more than I wanted. I wind up pulling out more decorations than I need. And I wind up hurried and scurried and stressed.
Last year, I thought I'd get a handle on the holidays and decided not to put out my tree. The year before, I'd left it out longer than necessary and didn't end up putting the tree away till August. The only reason I even bothered putting it away then was the teasing I kept getting from family and friends. I caved.
So last year, I thought I'd seen more Christmas in one year than any person deserved and left the tree and all the trimmings in storage. I didn't even miss it. I lived vicariously through my daughter's tree. After hers went up, I was glad to spend more time at her house, enjoying her decorations for a change. I liked that. A lot.
So what will I do this year? For one thing, I've decided to go light on the holiday decor again, just not that light. I'll use tabletop trees instead of the floor model. And I'm contemplating a crafty kind of project for the ornaments. Instead of dragging out my old ones, I'm thinking of making some--mostly because I think it'll be fun, but also because the artsy side of me is speaking. It needs an outlet, and I think I'll let it express itself in the form of paper crafts, glitter, and glue. Not sure what I'll be making, but I'm sure it'll be a great stress reliever.
Which brings me to the point of my post. I polled a few friends on Facebook last week about what they do to alleviate stress this time of year. Oddly? Not a single one of them mentioned crafts. But I bet you'll relate to at least one of their ideas, or have a few of your own to add:
"First, I remember that it's not about the $$ but about family and friends. I plan low-key events like an afternoon with a few friends. I'll serve pie and coffee and that's it! I don't go overboard with presents, either," says Luanne Mattson, who works in public relations and travels to southern Arizona frequently to visit with clients.
Eileen Proctor, a Top Dog in marketing and animal advocacy, says it's best to avoid the malls and big box stores between Thanksgiving and New Years! Instead, she says, "Patronize small Mom & Pops that show and tell you how much they appreciate you!"
Gwyn Nichols, who helps authors complete their books, offers advice you can use year-round when she says, "Be prepared to call a friend. When going into a situation that could be stressful, sandwich it between two calls to your sanest friend for prayers, planning, and debriefing."
And then there's Gwen Henson, who clearly sees the holidays as a time to celebrate. "Attending holiday concerts is a high priority during the holiday season," says the woman who helps writers and speakers find their professional niche, "and the beautiful seasonal music really helps keep me sane. It is both a tradition that I honor with my mother and an experience that I now enjoy with my son. The emotion of the music carries me through the season with peace and joy in my heart."
Andrea Beaulieu cautions you to plan your time well, as she does. "I'm discerning about what I choose to do," she says, "and where I choose to go."
Of course, if none of these work for you, you can do what Catherine MacRae Hockmuth of San Diego suggests: "Avoid family?"