We are over half way through the holiday season. Thanksgiving and Christmas have passed; but football playoffs, the Superbowl, and New Year’s Eve and Day are waiting to pounce on us like Mardi Gras on an unsuspecting tourist. The stress of having to watch all the bowl games, NFL playoffs, go to the many celebrations, and eat and drink beyond sanity is too much to bear for some. Adding salt to a wound, many of our employers expect us to function at work as if nothing else was happening outside the grey walls of industrial servitude. What are we to do? Give up; stay inside and watch reruns? Buy a gross of antacids and hope for the best? No! Giving up is not in our DNA and hope is not a plan (unless you are in the Federal Government). I have tested four strategies which will help you to survive the holiday season and escape to the doldrums of January physically unscathed and mentally neutral.
- Don’t go to work. Save yourself the stress of changing out of the dirty but stylish team logo wear, and fighting traffic to your office and stay home. Don’t call in either, after three or four days someone will certainly notice your absence. Pro: less stress due to work. Con: probable unemployment in 2014. There was a country song that commented on this strategy; “The Lord and my wife wouldn’t take it very good.” Enough said.
- Go to work, but spend all of your time on holiday related activities: shop on line, write and mail Christmas cards, organize the staff football pool or plan the Superbowl buffet. You would be multi-tasking in a singular way. Unfortunately the pros and cons are similar to the first strategy and having your wife and God mad at you at the same time is not a good idea.
- Become a temporary Kermuginary Hermit (one who stays inside and hides). In this strategy, one only has to stay indoors until the end of the Superbowl. Go to work, then rush home and turn off the outside lights so neighbors will believe the house is vacant. Not a bad plan; you will miss the madness of New Year’s Eve and multiple football parties, but you will be alone and likely engage in massive, isolation induced binge eating. The food and subsequent new clothing can be costly.
- Concentrate and Consolidate. Concentrate on what is significant and consolidate around who is important. We cannot do everything for or with everyone, lest we become a burnt out holiday shell and risk missing the reason that we celebrate. The holiday season is centered on the birth of Jesus, and the love we share with family and friends, so concentrate on why we have a holiday season. It is so we can be together in laughter and fun, being grateful to have each other. Consolidate your activities to the maximum events that you can attend and still enjoy the time away, and the time at home with your family. This strategy can siphon off the stress and friction not needed, and leave the peace and joy that are meant to stay forever.
When you get overwhelmed, as we all will, remember the moments that bring meaning to this time of year: decorating the tree together, making Christmas cookies with the nephews, watching your grandchildren open gifts, laughing at the dinner table for hours while the dishes patiently wait to be cleaned, with the understanding that every year has the potential to be the best year ever. One great moment can snuff out a dozen bad ones, if we take the time to remember. So, cherish this time of the year, and make a point to imprint the memories permanently in a place that can be accessed easily, and often.
Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year