How to Stay Sane During the Holidays

xmas

It’s December 8th. There are 17 days left to get your Christmas shopping done — that is if you are one of those who procrastinate until Christmas eve. If not — you have 16 days.

I used to buy into the whole, ‘Christmas frenzy’. I had to find that perfect gift for that special someone. I would spend hours at malls, looking for parking and waiting in line…until a few years ago. I had an “a ha!” moment after getting into an argument over a parking spot (that I had been patiently waiting for and someone came from the other side and zipped into ahead of me). Before I knew it, I was out of my car and yelled at the woman who stole my parking spot, “I could hit you so hard it would kill your whole family!”

Of course the woman responded to my rant by running in to the Toy’s R Us store (yes that is the store I planned to shop in). I am lucky that cell phones hadn’t been invented yet. I would have been embarrassed to see myself added to the thousands of other misbehaving holiday shoppers on You Tube.

My dad was the passenger in my car that day and when I got back inside, he told me I was acting like my mother. Those words hit me like a glass of cold water. That was my wake up call. I never wanted to be seen as acting like my mother.

Sorry to the mother’s out there. I am sure most are wonderful but my mother has a track record for not so nice behavior.

I didn’t go in to Toys R Us, instead we went home. I decided that day to end the madness. I would cut down my Christmas list. I put myself on a budget. I stopped trying to be Super Mom and please everyone. That year I brought a ready-made pie to those homes I was invited to for the holidays. I did not cook a Christmas dinner. I stopped doing anything I felt obligated to do and only did things that I wanted.

My stress level has gone down considerably. At first it felt weird but then after listening to others complain how stressed out they were over Christmas, I knew I did the right thing.

Then the Internet came along and it has helped me a lot. I let my ‘fingers do the walking’.  I don’t even go to the malls and actually haven’t set foot in one in months. I definitely don’t go during the month of December. There is a local bakery a few blocks from my house that does a lovely job when it comes to baked goods. I buy individual treats for neighbors and friends and I save time.

These days time is the most important thing I focus on. Cancer taught me that. We all get the same number of hours in a day and its up to each of us how we spend it. It’s easy to can get caught up in the holiday frenzy. I choose to spend time with those I care about instead of fighting with strangers over parking spots..

I want to share a few tips that I do to stay sane during the holidays and still show those I care about how much they mean to me.

The first thing is quite simple. I send cards via snail mail… the Internet is good for some things — ok, many things, but if you think about it, it’s really impersonal. Wouldn’t you enjoy getting mail from someone who cares about you instead of the usual monthly bills? A card that is hand written by you, means more than a quick email, or some store-bought, over-priced junk you will ever find in Wal-Mart.

I buy from local small business bakeries. They take the time to create something fabulous and their baked goods taste much better than the ones you find in grocery stores. The treats can usually boxed as a gift if you tell them to.

I shop online small businesses. Etsy is my favorite because there are so many artists from around the world whose hand-made gifts are one of a kind.

I buy books from Amazon, especially children’s books. I used to read to my son every night when he was little. It was our time — away from distractions. I hope parents still take the time to do that with their kids. Having them read from their own IPAD or Kindle is just not the same. It goes back to that ‘time’ thing I mentioned earlier. Kids grow up fast and before we know it, they are out in the world doing their own thing with their own friends and family.

I like to shop in antique malls. You never know what treasure you’ll find in there. It’s also fun to reminisce over the vintage goodies. I feel so relaxed wandering in and out of the individual booths.

So that’s what I do for other people but I can’t forget about myself. Its Christmas and that means cold weather, even freezing, depending on where you live. Cold weather means cold and flu season.  I stay inside more and when I go outside I dress appropriately. I live in Southern California but that doesn’t mean we don’t get some cold snaps. We are in the midst of one right now. I am sitting here wearing my pajamas and leopard robe as I write this.

I eat more warm foods. I don’t cook them to death — I do quick stir-frys and steam vegetables. I add spicier herbs to my foods, like cayenne. I juice. I drink green smoothies. I eat tangerines and oranges — they are so much better than those orange juices you buy in the store. The pasteurization takes out all the good stuff that is supposed to keep you healthy. I get enough sleep. I meditate. I do yoga. I read.

That’s pretty much it. I think you get the idea. Don’t buy in to what the media tells us we should do. Do what feels good to you. Remember ‘Keep it simple.’ The best present you can give someone is your time, even if that means talking to them (not texting) on the phone.

photo credit: Cherie Roe Dirksen

photo credit: Cherie Roe Dirksen

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas,

Inge

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