November 22, 2008

November 22, 2008
10 Ways to Survive the Holidays

Thanks for stopping by to check out what is going on in my life today. I hope you are having a safe and great weekend so far.

The topic for today is surviving the holidays. In the next week, many of us will be traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday. Thanksgiving is the true start of the holiday season for most Americans. Before we know it, the next eight week will have passed in a blur and it will be New Year's Eve.

What is it with the holidays? We're supposed to be happy, merry, and thankful and yet all too often, we're depressed, anxious, and stressed. The pre-enlightened Scrooge had the right idea, we think. Bah, humbug, we say! But if Scrooge can turn it around, why can't we? After all, are any of us as hard a nut to crack as he?

The following are 10 suggestions on how to survive the period between Thanksgiving and New Year's. Or how to turn around the holidays - without any ghostly visitations.

1. Rediscover the Child Within. Find ways to "ooh" and "aah" again! Watch "It's a Wonderful Life", "Miracle on 34th Street", "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and, of course, Scrooge and all its variations. Or read out loud - with family and friends if possible - "Twas the Night Before Christmas" or The "Gift of the Magi". Make hot chocolate with marshmallows. Sing Christmas carols. Play games. Write a letter to Santa. Spend a morning watching cartoons. Build a snowman or swing on a swing. Think back to your favorite holiday or childhood moments - or imagine some - and go for it!

2. Shopping Whoas. What are you waiting for? Make a list, check it twice, get out there and start shopping! If you can somehow manage to free up a weekday, so much the better. The stores are much less crowded during the day, especially in the morning. And if you've never felt the indescribably wonderful feeling you get when your shopping is done early, this is your opportunity for a liberating experience. It's especially fun being calm while so many people around you are fighting crowds and going nuts! Early, relaxed, leisurely holiday shopping could turn out to be one new experience you'll want to repeat again and again!

3. Dollar Signs. It's a tempting time of year to go overboard. Remember budgeting?!? If you can't afford to buy diamonds and rubies; don't do it! Put some thought and creativity into selecting your gifts. Try making a list and shopping for exactly what's on it. Pick a price range - and stick to it! If you really get into trouble, bring cash and leave all plastic at home! You don't want to spend the next ten years paying everything off!

4. Watch What You Eat. This may be the least popular suggestion here. But let's face it, when the holidays come around, we all consume mountains of junk. Just be aware that what you eat can affect your mood, and be careful - especially right before those times you know are going to be difficult. So be selective with your junk. You don't have to eat it all! Have smaller portions and don't waste calories on anything mediocre. Save those calories for your favorites -like home made apple pie or Godiva chocolates!

5. Reach Out. Being far from your family and friends at the holidays is rough. You may even find yourself envying those people with difficult families. Instead, step outside of yourself and look around you for others far from home. You can create new holiday traditions of your own. Or make plans to volunteer at a soup kitchen. Lending a helping hand could have an amazing impact on this holiday season.

6. Relativity. It's important to accept that you can't change your relatives. You only have control over you. It's best not to have high expectations of difficult people. Avoid getting pulled into arguments. Smile and say very little. Take a moment to think of the worst possible scenarios - and get creative. Think of the best ways to combat repetitive situations - whether it's by smiling and walking away, changing the subject, or very firmly saying "that's enough." If one person is the problem, focus on everyone else. Just remember to stay calm. Take a chilly walk if necessary. Hang out with the kids. Have a tete-a-tete with a favorite cousin. Or stay peaceful by renting a movie and watching it together. Quiet, please!

7. Holiday for Two. Smiling and saying nothing to your relatives may not be appropriate if they're busy insulting your significant other. Or maybe you're on the receiving end of the insults. Make a date with your partner to discuss beforehand how to survive the holidays together. Be prepared with suggestions and an open mind. Know your priorities. If you're not sure, remember who you go home with! Also, if you have two family holidays, negotiate! Stay calm! Work out exactly how and when you are handling both families without going insane.

8. Short and Sweet. Survival is the key word here. If it's always a nightmare and you can't get out of the family plans, minimize your time with them - actually make other plans so that you can leave early or arrive late. You don't have to spend the entire holiday with them. The less time you have to be on your best behavior the better.

9. Dig Deep. Make a list of the positive reasons to go and spend the holiday with your family. There must be a reason, you show up every year! Pull out the list whenever you hit a rocky moment.

10. Tomorrow. Remember, if all else fails, this will soon be in the past.

There's a lot of joy to be found during the holidays - if you can minimize the stressful elements and maximize the fun! Make the holidays your own and have a great time - and you won't have to go around shouting "Bah Humbug!" ever again.

I know you have heard it before, but remember to take time to smell the roses during the holidays. Close friends and family will be leaving us all too soon. Make some special memories with those close to you this holiday season.

Wishing you health, hope, happiness and the best of holiday season.

Big bear hug,

Daddy Dab