This blog introduces you to my special brand of BIKE. I show you how to find your Best self, access your Inner strength, tune in to your Killer instincts, and use your Expressive voice. It's inspiring, spiritual, quirky, and it's all in your head. It's about ATTITUDE, not exercise, though that might be a side benefit.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

How to stay sane this holiday season

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?"


Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell said...

Now that we're in a much smaller house, I'm limited inside to my decorating and really, I think it feels more homey than when I had the big tree and all of that stuff out. We also don't have a choice with the family, as we can't go home this year, but there are some I quit celebrating with a long time ago anyway - just to preserve my own sanity. I guess there's a reason "Christmas Vacation" is our favorite holiday movie. I think that the family dysfunction there is more realistic!

BIKE LADY said...

Ha! Kerri, family dysfunction is NOT a sanity saver. LOL.

Alexandra Grabbe said...

I used to live in France, where Christmas was not celebrated so assiduously from a commercial point of view, and I found I missed the American holiday. Now that I'm back, I have discovered the best way to avoid all the commercialism is to simply ignore it. I collect presents all year long, often found in thrift shops. I enjoy the occasional "cookie swap" party, and recent community wreath celebration, which I wrote about in my blog.

All I want for Christmas is to be with family, more difficult in the States where people often live so far away from each other ...

BIKE LADY said...

It is difficult to be around family during the holidays, Alexandra. That's what I'd prefer above all else. Wish I were as good about collecting present all year as you are. I have no patience for that. I want to give as soon as I get. Couldn't wait a whole year! :-)

Anonymous said...

My sanity saver is a bit weird. If I see things that I like for myself, I buy them. This has alleviated much marital stress. My husband is not a shopper. In the past I would see something I really wanted, tell him about it and then it would not appear under the tree b/c he didn't get there in time, forgot, or just didn't understand why I wanted it. Sigh. So now I buy the things I want and have no expectations for him for Christmas morning (for the most part). It's made things a lot easier for both of us.

kerry dexter said...

I tend to just smile at all the commercial things and regard them as part of the celebration -- a part that I don't have to take part in. We make our gifts, and I also do reading and prayers in connection with the the season of Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas, which helps keep me centered on the main ideas of the season.
And of course, there is always the music.

BIKE LADY said...

Brette, that's so smart. Some men are just terrible at gift-giving. Not a slight to the partner, just the way they are. Best not to try to change them but to figure out how to make that work for you. You did that. Good for you!

Kerry, I love that you make your own gifts. I have done that in years past. It's not only fun and creative but meaningful and generally well-received.

Stephanie - said...

I wish my family understood that it wasn't all about $$, but every year they spend too much on things we don't need. Sigh.

BIKE LADY said...


I used to be that family. Our holidays were ridiculous when the kids lived at home, and even into their college years. Our tree would be overflowing with presents. Literally overflowing. It was fun to give, and we all loved opening the gifts. But the thing I love most about this recession is that it's forced us to get real, to be more picky about what you want out of life. And, really, I just want to be able to spend time with my kids. One lives out of town, and I see him and my grandbaby only maybe three times a year. My daughter, who lives nearby, is busy with her life and work. So when we can just get an evening together, or a long weekend, that's all I really need. No present in a box with a pretty bow could beat that.

Meredith Resnick - The Writer's [Inner] Journey said...

During the holidays the thing I have to remember to remember is that these special days/weeks are really just like all days/weeks. I need to do all the things I need to do anyway to best care for myself--and probably even more so!