Thanksgiving is an American feast day--it also kicks off the holiday season. Turkey, football, pumpkin pie, eggnog, bourbon, shopping trips, gift wrap, hype, resentment, duty, pressure. And it doesn't stop until New Year's Day, we pile on the agony, heaping expectations onto ourselves.
Even if you love the holidays, it can be stressful. Company is coming, and the Halloween stuff is still out. Dust bunnies are breeding under the dining room table. There's one roll of toilet paper left. The refrigerator is jammed with Diet Coke and heat 'n serve bacon. Not only that, I can't find 10 plates that match, much less remember where I put Aunt Tempe's bowl, the one with the angry smiley face.
It wouldn't take a minute to dig through the basement storage room...but...what if the clock is ticking and you already have too much on your plate?
If you have a full time job (or young children or elderly relatives or any number of things), then the holidays can feel a tad hectic. Not for all, but for many of us, the details pile up. Food, tablescapes, dustbunnies, sassy Aunt Jolene--it can all swirl.
Sometimes I know just how a turkey feels.
If you feel a bit overwhelmed, you are not alone. I'm right there with you.
Because holidays aren't just about food. They can have baggage. For some, entering the holiday season is like stepping into an Emo Zone. You don't want it to be that way; you want this year to be different; yet the pressure kicks into high gear.
The Internet is buzzing with 5 minute cures, ways to de-stress the holidays.
But...does anything really work?
This year, I've added humor to the menu. Humor is a sure-fire antidote for stress. And you can use it as a shield to deflect any verbal barbs that come your way. Think of humor as a cone of warm, yellow light that flows down around you. Or just visualize something funny.
Another thing I'm doing: I'm buying a spiral notebook at K-Mart, and I'm leaving it in the entry hall. I'm going to ask my loved ones to contribute to a small "thanksgiving list" -- one or more things that make them feel thankful. (I will not stress if "Cousin It" won't participate.)
This afternoon I am swinging by Big Lots to look for cute dishes and napkins--and while I'm there, I will look in the gourmet food section for jams and olive oil, so I can make little gift bags. Oriental Trading Company has some adorable ones:
I will also strive to maintain a level head about the holidays.
A lovely picture, to be sure, but not all gatherings are Rockwelly...
Sometimes real Thanksgivings can be stressful.
But remember that last year's catastrophe can be this year's funny bone. Last New Year's, just as my guests were arriving, I set the microwave on fire--and set off the smoke alarm. Since I couldn't open the microwave, I got the bright idea to suck out the smoke with the vacuum cleaner. It worked! And we are still laughing about that party.
Gollum's Holiday De-Stressor List:
- Petting a dog or cat has been proven to lower blood pressure
- Walk--exercise lowers Cortisol, a stress hormone
- Add a huge dollop of humor to your menu
- Literally take a deep breath. Focus on inhaling, exhaling--an instant stress reducer.
- Draw names to help with small tasks, such as clearing the table, washing dishes, etc.
- Remember to take groceries to the Food Bank, or participate in a program at your local grocery.
- Invite a guest who is all alone this year
- Lower the bar--the one you set for yourself. Not everything has to be homemade, does it? That said, even if your bar is already low, the people around you might have a bar with your name on it--and that bar may be shockingly high. How to deal with that? You can't. So, buy the frozen sweet potatoes or the dressing at Publix, and call it a day. Do not apologize. Do not explain. And do not take comments ("I sure don't like dressing with sage in it.") to heart. (See No. 4--breathe.)
- When you sit down to the dinner table, ask your guests to join hands and to complete the following sentence: "This year, I am thankful for _____."
- When the holiday is over, reward yourself--give yourself a gift. It can be time alone or a huge slice of coconut layer cake--and tell yourself that it just might be possible to have your cake and to eat it.
And remember, even the Pilgrims prolly stressed a little over the menu.
What are your tips to decrease holiday stress? Anything you're trying this year? Anything you tried last year but it didn't work?