Friday, December 23, 2011

Let There Be Peace

..and let it begin with me!

Here we go!   It’s the moment before the excitement begins.....   take a breath!  

You are not superwoman.... there is only so much that you can – even SHOULD – do.   So take a few minutes now and figure out a strategy for the next few days!

This particular holiday brings with it a TON of emotional turmoil and I’m not sure WHY!  It has religious significance for many of us... but that very significance often gets lost in the social obligations (even church ones) and the wrapping paper and cinnamon sugar.  I don’t want to talk about the religious part right now.  Right now – RIGHT NOW – we need to talk about sailing through – surviving – the next few days.

It starts here with a few minutes of reflection about how you want to feel on Christmas night (or whatever the last night of your whirlwind is).  Many of us have several obligations over the next few days.. and the very first thing to get straight is attitude :-)  Nothing will ruin a holiday quicker than an over-stressed, emotional, worn-out mom! (Trust me on this one – I have a husband and a bunch of kids that can back me up!)

So... how do you want to feel?  

I think the most important thing I can offer here is that you are in control of what you DO.  How YOU deal with the next few days is a choice.
Notice that I did not say THINGS are under your control – YOUR ACTIONS are under your control.

All emotions are heightened right now... so be realistic!

.... this time of year has its share of tragedies – like every other time.... but it feels like it is worse because of all the attendant tradition and expectations.  But in honesty – the death of a loved one is terrible any time of year.  And you will be sad in spots – how would you handle this if it were NOT Christmas?   Your job is to recognize the feeling, smile at the memory and get back to what you are doing.  I’m not downplaying grief – but be nice to yourself and be realistic and get through the next couple of days.

... traditions... oh my.. here is a biggie.  We HAVE to do this because we have ALWAYS done this.  Really?  What is amusing about this statement is that I hear it from some of the most innovative people I know.  People who are creative and funny and don’t worry about tradition any other time of year.  But they will let something as simple as not having time to make their special cookies derail the entire holiday season.  Again, be realistic – it’s a cookie.  Go to Plan B or start a new tradition.  Maybe buying cookies is a better ‘NEW tradition’

               One of my BEST ‘new’ traditions was getting my adult kids to bring a dish to family meals.  This has spun off to us all taking turns hosting.  Every once in a while, I get the twinge of “Mom / grandma is SUPPOSED to provide the big holiday meal”... but then I remember a) that thought is all about ME and b) Why am I supposed to do all of it?  Because that is the picture on television?  Who really expects that?  And this holiday is not all about me and my need to beat myself up...

.....  expectations.... the biggest problem ever!
             ..... of others..  What do you expect from others?  Face it..... you have no control over what your friends and family do.  You can suggest, cajole, whine, bribe, and even make out a list.... there is a high likelihood that you will NOT get the gift you asked for.  There is a high likelihood that your instructions about the celebration will not be followed.  GET OVER IT.  It doesn’t mean that no one loves you... it doesn’t mean that no one pays attention to you... it means that other people have their own ways of dealing with this holiday.  If it really means they don’t love or pay attention to you – well, that is another issue for another time.  Don’t let YOUR personal expectations become a control issue..... don’t let those expectations get so high that you allow them to ruin a good gathering.  You are not a selfish person so don’t let this become an issue about you.

          .. of yourself...  I find that often we are our own worst enemies.  Seriously, your family will probably not even remember the Christmas where the bows didn’t match the decor or the year there were lumps in the gravy (OR that the gravy came out of a jar)... but they will certainly remember the Christmas where mom had the meltdown in a marathon wrapping session!  Or maybe your meltdown IS part of THEIR Christmas memories and tradition... yikes!  A lot of times this is prideful perfectionism and truly irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.  

How do you define a successful Christmas anyway?  Matching packages?  Or happy family?  (okay, you can’t control the responses of the family)  But you CAN achieve a sense of peace in a job well-done!  YOU are in charge of your own responses!  

Sooo... the greatest piece of advice I have to offer is..... when you feel that horrible ‘oh-my-goodness-what-a-tragedy’ feeling..... STOP..... TAKE a deep breath... and consider how it will all look in 24 – 36 hours.  Everybody warm, housed and fed?  Good.

Tragic?  Probably not. 

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