Have you ever wondered why we do the things we do at holiday time? I’m not talking about religious observances. I’m in the mood to questions those hundreds of little “must do” tasks that can bring us to our knees in the month of December.
This post is about relieving holiday mania – that temporary seasonal insanity – by doing less, rather than more. Just seven things that can help you feel jollier into the New Year.
1. Deck the Halls
The real truth about holiday decorating is that I can no longer face dragging out the plastic tubs of ornaments, yards of lighted garlands and piles of dusty Santa figures.
I’ve heard lots of grumbling about holiday decorating in conversations during the past few weeks, especially from empty nesters.
It’s one thing to pull out all the stops to decorate when young children are around, but from midlife onwards is seems like the best decorations are those put up by other people.
So if you’re inclined to simplify this year, do it with wreaths and red ribbon.
Placing a wreath on your front door is a tradition that dates back to pre-Roman times symbolizing the “ever green” circle of life.
The message is “from here on out the dark days of winter are behind us and Spring, and our renewal, is on the way” — a really good thing to believe in.
2. Don We Now Out Gay Apparel
Do you find yourself sitting on the floor of your closet fretting over what to wear to parties? You are not alone. Why is it that we believe that we must wear the dreaded Christmas sweaters or ties? The kitten heels or the boots? The Spanks under spangles?
Make signature style your secret weapon for holiday dressing. My solution is a pair of black velvet jeans. My husband’s is a cashmere sweater. Make it easy on yourself to get through the party season fuss free.
3. Troll the Ancient Yuletide Carol
I admit that I can no longer listen to radio stations from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. I’ve developed an auditory allergy to year end Muzak.
Holiday headaches start with sugary standards played non-stop. Instead, turn off the radio or CD’s and sing a little.
Exercise your mental “playlist” by belting out “the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful.”
There are more than 800-recorded covers of Let It Snow. Who’s to say your very own version isn’t the best ever?
4. Say Hello To Friends You Know and Everyone You Meet
My dog Oscar is really good at this, but have you tried saying hello to someone you pass on the sidewalk? It’s not easy.
Strangers start averting their eyes or scowling at you with deep suspicion from fifty yards away. Even people you know may be deep in their own little worlds and notice a cheery greeting.
Resolve to make eye contact and offer a cheery “hello”… in stores, parking lots, post offices, and coffee shops. Your jolliness quotient will increase with every moment you spend just taking time out to chat.
5. Stockings Are Hung From the Mantle With Care
Christmas stockings are so under-utilized these days. Whatever happened to “good things come in small packages?” Whatever happened to “money can’t buy happiness?”
Last year the average American family spent $750 on holiday gifts. You can read a complete (and sobering) analysis in Forbes magazine.
If we all focused our energies on the tiny treasures that will fit into stockings, we might just succeed in reducing our holiday expenditures and expectations to match.
6. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
Dancing merrily is not something that comes easily for me. It’s a tall person thing,…a stoic thing…a what will people think thing.
At times I feel more rooted in one spot than any fir tree wedged into a metal stand. And that very stillness can be source of seasonal stiffness.
So, rock around the Christmas tree, or in a rocking chair, or climb up a rock wall, if you must. But get some momentum and movement into your holiday break.
Just a walk through your neighborhood can shake off the effects of too much eating, drinking and making merry.
7. Don’t Bring Us Some Figgy Pudding!
Is your intake caffeine and carbs off the charts as you skitter into the yuletide? When sunlight is at a premium with shorter days, regular doses of sugar, butter and flour make for entertaining little bursts of energy throughout our days.
Many of us feel like we’re falling down on the job if we don’t bake dozens of traditional treats to foist on festive gatherings.
If you’re eating a gluten free diet, God help you! You must be driven to munch a steady diet of cinnamon sugared almonds, mandarins and cheese cubes.
Whatever festive nibbles you ingest, wash it down with generous quantities of water. I’m partial to plain old tap, but if fizzy is your thing, then by all means stock up and sip bubbles.
Either way, if you hydrate yourself through the holiday and you’ll feel less like a dried out gumdrop.
We all have those multi-tasking moments when we worry that we’ve forgotten some special ingredient that will ruin the whole holiday. But with just a few minor adjustments, we can cope with holiday hospitality with smiles and serenity.
What are your saavy solutions to seasonal insanity?