Holidays make lot of us giddy. The lights, decorations and excited kids drunk on all the magic. I love this time of year.
My daughter is grown but I still run to my front porch and wave to Santa when he comes riding into our neighborhood, sirens flaring (now in a pickup truck vs fire truck. No more candy canes. Even Santa has his budget cuts).
But holidays send some people into a tricky emotional place. They feel gut wrenchingly sad because they miss a parent or are estranged from loved ones.
This time of year triggers memories of drama-soaked meals where someone was too drunk, too mean or too critical.
Christmas in our house was a big deal.
After my dad’s first wife left when I was five, my father was instantly a single parent with five emotionally shattered kids. Therapy helped but children don’t ever fully recover when their mother takes off.
Santa does wonders.
My dad made Christmas spectacular. Our 10-foot tree was covered with presents, our stockings were stuffed, dinner was spectacular (my dad was a hobbyist chef and could master any recipe). He’d make beef tenderloin, Yorkshire pudding, and homemade chocolate mousse with hand whipped cream spun with a bit of bourbon.
I don’t remember Christmas as especially sad, angry or dramatic. Although, if you spoiled your appetite or pushed your food around the plate (I dissected every inch of fat off my meat) — you better run. My dad had a big loud temper. Which, managing five kids (three big feral boys) and working full-time, I’d be cranky too.
Whatever the holiday feels like for you it’s guaranteed busy.
If being a perfectionist gives you peace and joy. Go for it.
I’m reindeer obsessed so I spend hours setting up my indoor decorations exactly right. It’s a high. Some people feel compelled to master gift-wrap corners (I’ve tried for years. And I still can’t fold a fitted sheet). For others it’s flawless pies and sixteen homemade side dishes. Preparing food is a love language for a lot of people. Too many sides makes me tense just thinking about it.
If you’re losing it on everyone and stressed, let something go.
What I mean is: willingly “fail.”
Cut out a few sides, ignore the crappy wrapped corners, and God knows ask for help from your kids, your spouse, any willing and able body.
No opposing politics, none, nada, zip
This speaks for itself. Haven’t we learned since 2016 that talking Trump vs Not Trump is useless and disastrous? No one gets any closer. They get mad and farther apart.
So if “that” uncle or cousin even hints at bringing up opposing politics, gently steer them away. If they don’t listen, firmly steer them away. If they’re being obnoxious drunk and belligerent, send them to the TV room.
Make peace with gaining a few — or don’t gain a few
You can go a couple ways here.
Except that you’ll gain a few pounds but lose it later. Or, treat the holidays like any other week. Eat and drink reasonably, indulge here and there, exercise as much possible.
I’d rather not put on a few pounds and have to work it off. At 57, working off a few pounds is exponentially harder than at 25. The added weight just laughs at me now, “good luck losing it.”
But I’m also not big into self-sacrifice. I’m a hedonist. For me that looks like fine cheeses, plenty of wine and lemon drop martins and some sea salt dark chocolate. I generally love all salty savory white carbs. Pasta, chips, popcorn by the bowlful.
Some people prefer to get buzzed on pie and cookies. Do your thing. Decide what’s worth it. Then let it go.