Ten days and counting.
I was kindly reminded of this fact while driving carpool. A sweet family on a highly-traveled Dallas road creatively offers the reminder each year.
The festive gesture ignites sighs of relief to older kids ready for the break. While younger siblings get lost in visions of decimated wrapping paper dancing in their heads.
But for some, the reminder prompts feelings of anxiety. All that isn't collides with looming deadlines of all that needs to be done. The shopping, the cards, the arrangements, the cooking, traveling ... and more grab hold of already overloaded thoughts.
This year instead of stress, why not opt for the operative word: H O L I D A Y. It's a holiday, so take it. Take a break from do-all/be-all pressures, hit pause and re-purpose Overwhelmed.
Take a holiday from retail pressures. Tap into and be overwhelmed by perspective. Though this year's "perfect" toy or game might provide a satisfactory response to all the what-did-you-get questions, those cool fads and games go out as quick as they come in. Offer perspective from your own life (ahhh... the add-a-bead necklace that made us cool back in the day - yeah not so much) or even their's (Beanie Babies anyone?) to put today's must-have in its logical place.
Remind these kids of their inherent worth - it's there. A game or toy doesn't make or break them. Then add a little secret sauce for good measure: if someone is asking and judging based on what-did-you-get, that likely implies that their worth is tied up in such things. Take the opportunity to spread the holiday cheer, remind those folks of something genuinely, inherently good about themselves and give them a holiday too.
Give yourself a break from appearance pressures. With each Christmas card you open, see it for what it is - a moment in time. And enjoy the friendship that comes with the card rather than ever let it or a Christmas letter usher in comparison - as in measuring up. Know that regular is just on the other side of posed & polished - as it is for everyone. And as likely as you are to see the beauty in others, see it in yourself and your family.
Take a holiday from relationship hardship. If at all possible, put judgment on the back burner for the season. Lean into Christmas peace and goodwill toward men in practical ways by extending it to others - even those closest. Remember that on the other side of judgement and any unnecessary rudeness are people - people likely dealing with fears or anxieties attached to hurt, mis-met expectations, bad decisions, etc ... who could use a break. Set boundaries then extend love, possibly forgiveness. And, consider doing the same for yourself, the person we tend to judge the harshest.
Holiday parties can be so much fun. Just getting an invite momentarily puts FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) in it's place. Still, in all our Middle School insecurities, feelings of being overlooked or forgotten linger in the shadows. But say NO to FOMO. Life is not a race to win or die trying to keep up. Shift thought-focus from ourselves and change comparison to compassion by looking at the person next to us who could use some loved-in since they likely feel left-out. Sound cheesy? Maybe, but it works.
A couple practical steps to a lighten the holiday-stress load:
- Carry cash. Set spending amounts and pay in cash rather than cards. You may end up spending more money with credit cards than you would with cash, which dials up stress in the New Year. No need for that.
- Clear some clutter. Physical clutter can cause stress and leave you less focused. So why not take a few things off our overloaded plates by clearing small spaces. Something as simple as cleaning out a drawer, a console while sitting in carpool, a closet rack can make you physically feel better.
- Take note of gratitude. Grab a notebook at the Dollar store, put it on the kitchen table and each of the next ten days at any meal go around the table and have each person say out loud and write down a legitimate thing (physical, emotional, spiritual) for which they are grateful and enjoy into the benefits.
Fully live each of these next ten days and counting. They go fast - really fast. So, relish every moment. Don't let grinch-y pressures or stress steal a second of them. Instead sink into the holiday and take a break because you're worth it as is the person walking alongside.
Today, say someone's name - at the grocery store in the drive-through at carpool. Connect as human beings, genuinely caring and embrace the reason for the season: love, hope and peace - since people, including you, matter.