Eat the Cookies!: Holiday Survival Plan

Forget the Jones. No matter how perfectly fabulous you are, there will always be Margaret’s award-winning pie crust, Saul’s impeccably-positioned Nutcracker seats, Betty’s magazine-cover decorations, and Joe’s gifts of individualized carvings. Stop trying to compete. You’ll simply miss your own holiday focusing on them.

Don’t try to do everything. Hosting, baking, shopping, gifting, cookie exchange, open house, religious services, packages, cards, decorations…you’ll drive yourself crazy. Pick a signature thing that you do. Whether it’s Mom’s fudge recipe for the neighbors, movie-star caliber cards for the relatives or the best-lit house on the block, focus on it and leave the rest for other people to feel competent (you don’t want to be the Jones do you?).

Plan on sadness, loneliness and grief coming to dinner. It’s a set-up to assume you should be happy, joyful and grateful all the time. Really. Plan on moments, days or even entire holiday seasons of these feelings at the table. Allow other people to bring their feelings too. Holidays get to be as open and inclusive as the rest of the year…we don’t have to send certain feelings packing. It just means they show up later and stay longer.

Refrain from abstaining. This is not the time of year to start a new restrictive diet, a minimalist budget, or a media blackout. There are eleven other perfectly good months out of the year to commit to and follow through on drastic life-style changes. Please don’t pick the holidays; that’s a set-up for failure (which will make it harder to try again in 2017).

Balance. Although it sounds impossible, make sure to include different types of experiences. Quiet alone time (even if it’s just a few minutes in the morning at the kitchen table), bustling time with family, crowd time with community (holiday fairs or concerts), activities that are indoors and outdoors, active and inactive. Try something new this year that stretches you a bit!

Show up for the present moment. Although we hope for years of holidays and countless memories with those we love, we never know what the future brings. At least once this season, take time for the present. Stop. Breathe in. Breathe out. Look. Smell. Taste. Touch. Listen. There is only this moment, and it is waiting for you.