December is always the busiest month of the year with two birthdays in the family (my son Gabriel and daughter Hannah) work parties, family parties, and ridiculous amounts of consummerism, materialism, wrapping/unwrapping, decorating, baking, and eating.
In the past I took a completely chaotic approach. I waited until the last moment to do all my shopping, crammed all the decorating into one day, wandered around in a daze in awful places like Walmart as I tried to figure out which item(s) were or were not on my list. (I couldn’t even read my own writing). In addition, I waited until the night before each Christmas party to wrap gifts and during those bleary-eyed hours in the night, I would continuously lose the pair scissors, the tape, or the ribbon roll under a pile of disorganized gifts and boxes. Then I would calm my nerves by eating several frosted sugar cookies (which the kids and I would make during one of the previous frenetic days) and drinking coffee (a poor choice to deal with anxiety). I am ashamed to admit that during past winter holidays the only thing that kept me going was the food, which added inches to my waistline and hours to my workouts come January–since I couldn’t manage to keep up with my yoga classes (cancelled for the holidays) or my home yoga practice (there was too much crap everywhere). Hence I was puffy, anxious, and stressed. I don’t remember enjoying any of the events as I was too busy trying to manage my kids, my husband, teaching, relatives, parties, writing deadlines, and the guilt I would feel from shopping at Walmart (clearly a place I do not regularly patron).
After I came to grips with the fact that my family and my adrenal glands would not survive another winter holiday with the way I had been doing things, I decided to change things up a bit. Instead of waiting until December to start shopping, I ventured out Thanksgiving night into some long-ass lines waiting for Kohl’s and Carson’s to open at midnight. Although I don’t remember much of what happened on Black Friday (I think I almost got trampled because I have unexplained bruises), I am happy to say that I got half of my Christmas shopping done.
Note to self: turkey+ casseroles+ a glass of wine+ football=post turkey coma, which leads to temporary memory loss.
I also took a smarter approach regarding presents and had my husband stop at Walgreens to stock up on wrapping paper early with the goal of wrapping the presents a few weeks ahead of time. He thought it was such a “novel idea,” that will really help us manage the stress. Wow, I come up with the brightest ideas, right? You would think after 13 years of marriage, stress management might become a priority, but we just shift into stupid survival mode.
Here’s another novel idea: we convinced the kids to slow down on the decorations. Why try to do all rooms of the house in a day, when you can just put up the tree? Eventually the boxes of decorations will find themselves unpacked and up in the rest of the rooms. This year, I am going to enlist the help of my iPhone to keep me on track. I think I am going catalog everyone’s gifts with the corresponding houses they go to with the dates of the parties. That way I won’t forget the kids’ framed school pictures (like I did last year). Another plan I have is to throw away or donate one box in my basement per week. It’s bad feng shui to hold onto stuff we don’t need. So why keep it, when we can contribute to a land fill or donate it to the Goodwill–the latter being the preferred choice. But the last time I tried to donate to Goodwill, the bags of items sat in my trunk for a year. They eventually got there, but I need stuff moving out of here once a week! I admit in winter season, going green is the last thing on my mind. (Although we continue to drive a hybrid, recycle most recyclables, and drink out of stainless steel water bottles, that doesn’t compensate for our social irresponsibility.)
While I am taking steps to ensure we had a less hectic holiday season, I have come up with another idea. If my plan doesn’t work this year, then we’ll convert to Judaism! I think that is the finest idea of all. Then I won’t have to worry about most of this crap. I will stay skinny. My husband will lose weight, and we won’t have to go to endless Christmas parties. Although, if that were to happen I am sure the relatives would kill me. The kids would miss all the presents and stage a coup. And then there is the fact that tradition is more important than sanity. So cheers to the freakin’ holiday season. I’ll sing to that, yeah, yeah!