grow a pair of holiday balls & ASK yourself the tough questions:

 

1. What were your favorite PARTS OF THE holidayS when you were a kid?

  • Are they still a part of how you experience the season now?
  • If not, why not? And how can you bring them back into your present-day celebrations?

2. which holiday traditions do you ACTIVELY dread but still participate in year after year?

  • What specifically do you dislike about them?
  • What mechanisms keep these traditions in place? Are they really necessary or is it just the way you've always done it?
  • Can you think of some alternatives or modified versions?

3. let's not mince words: do you get SAD AND fat during the holidays?

  • Do you enjoy getting sad and fat? (I didn't think so.)
  • There's a lot of holiday sitting around while eating and drinking and watching it get dark early. Think about some more active ways to pass the time and don't be afraid to suggest them in the moment even if they contradict the inertia of what's already happening.

4. TRAVEL / PARTIES / COMMITMENTS. There are always too many and it is always exhausting. WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?

  • Sit for two seconds and remind yourself that it's ok to say no to things. Just because you're there doesn't mean you're really there there. In fact, if you say no to the things that you don't really want to be at or are a logistical clusterfuck, you make yourself fully available for the things that are truly important and worthwhile to you.
  • Set an obligation limit maximum before all the invitations are upon you: 10 events? 5? 2? Figure out what's likely to work for you ahead of time and stick to it (make a physical cross-outable piece of paper). Once you reach your quota, just politely decline.
  • Wait, how do you politely decline? Thank the host for the invitation and say that unfortunately you already have plans (even if those are falling asleep on your couch at 8:30pm). There is no need for further specificity--"already have plans" is just fine. If they press further, consider them in question 5.
  • What if it's a holiday party for work? Do the bare minimum. Get festive, show up, stay for a bit, get your face in some photos to prove you were there, make a clear plan to leave by a certain time and then stick to it.

5. WHO ARE YOUR PEOPLE? TIME TO take YEAR-END inventory.

  • You are the company you keep. Are the people you're spending time with now an accurate representation of the kind of person you want to be? Are they helping you achieve more of the things you want or keeping you from doing just that?
  • Make a list of who you would invite to your (hypothetical) wedding. Or, if that construct is revolting to you, try "Who would you take with you on your very long flight into outer space?" Only 2 columns: YES and NO. This is a time to be brutally binary.
  • Focus on the people on the YES list and let the NO's fade away. If the NO's come creeping, send kind but clear signals.

6. HOLIDAY SHOPPING IS SO STRESSFUL. can we just stop THE gifting?

  • Of course you can! This year of all years is a great time to give to an organization doing important work in lieu of shopping for the "perfect" gift (which btw is a thing that does not exist). Find out what causes your giftee stands behind and give a donation in their name. 
  • Did you plan to get yourself any gifts? Like the gift of peace and quiet, or saying not to stuff you don't want to do, or more sleep, or perhaps a delightful massage?

 

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In case you're curious about WHAT ALL I THINK:

1. The anticipation/suspense was/is my favorite part of the holidays.
I think the way to foster more of it is to take the time to create dumb surprises like boxes in boxes in boxes and silly hidden notes.

2. The fact that everything has to be done on a prescribed day is my top holiday tradition beef. It's so inefficient and the travel portion is so irritating and fraught with complications. 
I'm going to keep suggesting that we have thanksgiving whenever we want, like in June.

3. I don't enjoy it getting sadfat. It is not a right of passage.
Instead of accepting the holiday fatus quo I will push for more walks and hikes this year.

4. Obligations are exhausting. Agree. Especially in great number and clustered all around the same time.
I try real hard not to go to anything I'm not excited about. Or at least to cut out early if the pull of obligation should be too strong.

5. This one ain't easy, but it must be done. The earlier you start culling the social herd the easier accepting or declining holiday invitations will be. And the more streamlined and cooler your life will become. Just my two cents.

6. My brother started giving us gift cards that we could donate to the organization of our choosing a couple years ago. Still the magic of gifting but without the misery of shopping! And frankly, at the risk of being moralizing, more in line with the spirit of the season if you are a person who already has enough.