Are we talking about drugs? Well not the traditional form, but a type of drug–the inability to make the best of a situation and accept something that is not perfect but is completely acceptable. This time of year brings with it a great deal of ready-made stress. There’s the stress of having to entertain, to attend parties/gatherings, to find the “perfect” gift, and to make your home as festive as possible. Let’s not forget cooking, cleaning, and wrapping. Goodness, doesn’t that list just make you feel the need to jump up and do something? Well, unfortunately too many people do. This is the time of year that is stressful for everyone, but particularly for women, even more so if they are mothers. But you know what? It’s time reclaim the holidays. How? By saying no. It doesn’t have to be announced, simply said with conviction, embraced with strong commitment, and carried out with dedication and determination. The holiday season should be joyous for everyone.
In the book Christmas with the Kranks, John Grisham mocks the traditions of a suburban neighborhood when the Kranks decide to “skip Christmas” and instead go on a tropical cruise. The hero proposed this after calculating the cost of their typical Christmas festivities. Not wanting to spoil it for you…in the end the Kranks learned a valuable lesson. They made do with less than perfect and rediscovered the meaning of Christmas. Last year, Leesa inadvertently had a similar experience. Ever since she reduced her hours at work to care for her son, Leesa opted to save a little money and invest a lot of time by crafting homemade Christmas presents for her friends and family. Well last year she cut her time a tad too closely. She had a craft idea go terribly wrong, and just four days prior to the annual family gift exchange, she had to scramble to come up with a substitute. Since she had already spent money on the failed craft project, money was also an issue. Leesa was beginning to really feel the pressure. This was heightened by the fact that it was her turn to host the gift exchange, the house was a mess and with a toddler around it was futile to try to clean a few days in advance, she had gifts to wrap, a project to complete with her son, and only twenty-four hours in a day. Leesa found a craft solution, but knew that she would have to eliminate sleep in order to achieve her normal fare.
Two days before the exchange Leesa’s house was even messier, dishes were piled up, laundry was overflowing, and craft materials abounded. Leesa looked at her “to do” list and was shocked at the length. Near tears, she decided to take a much needed break to try to regroup. She went into her bedroom, shut the door, sat down, closed her eyes and began to breathe deeply to relax. When Leesa reemerged she had a plan. She had decided to focus her efforts on the gifts because she knew that they would be greatly appreciated, and to spend less time on the cleaning. The house wouldn’t be spotless, but it would be clean enough, after all, that’s what doors are for. Once Leesa let go of her typical list of “musts” and “shoulds”, she actually began to enjoy the crafts that she was working on completing. In fact, despite the rush, she had a great time. She decided to say no. But here’s the important part–she said no to herself, no to her inner critic, and no to those awful gremlins who determine what should and must be done.
Leesa learned the trick, are you ready to let go, say no, and reclaim the holiday season and your life? No matter your beliefs, the holiday season is not about you, but the spirit of giving, the ability to connect or reconnect with friends and family and enjoying that connection. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Not perfect is okay, just allow yourself to accept not perfect and enjoy all that will take its place. Remember that when you say “NO!” to stress, you gain much more for yourself and your loved ones. And it doesn’t apply to just the holiday season (hint, hint). Each day take the time to evaluate your tasks, determine which things give you wiggle room, and where your comfort level lies. You have the ability to reduce the amount of stress in your life, start now and get off to a good start.
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