Ok, so I did not make the Tuesday deadline! I feel like I have been stuffed into a magic bullet, and I am swirling so fast I cannot catch my breath. First, it was my sister’s 50th (overnight at Mohegan Sun Casino), then my husband’s work party (overnight in NYC), and then my surprise Bday (overnight Upstate New York), all in less than three weeks. Boom, the flu! Yea! In the middle of all of it, we (and my son) had the flu (despite getting the flu shot). I still feel like I am trying to regain my energy level, but thankfully I am better. I knew you ladies would be sympathetic because I am sure your world is just as insane!
Let’s talk about the “holidays.” Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Winter Solstice, the holidays come with an inherent amount of stress that can turn holiday cheer into holiday dread. The running, the expectations, the cost, the late nights, and lack of self-care are enough to make us lose our shit. How do we manage to get through the holidays, year after year, and never end up in the psych ward?
Begin by taking a moment, a breath, and a cocktail. Girls, it is time to put pen to paper and get organized.
Get out the calendar and schedule yourself YOU time.
Take it from me, if you do not take time for yourself, you will wind down, like a dying battery, and you will not function. My body’s way of telling me to slow down is to get visual migraines. Visual migraines cause me to lose my vision, leaving me with rainbow-colored zigzags that slowly move across my field of vision. These migraines are downright freaky, and they leave me with a nasty headache. Your body will find a way to slow you down, too; please make sure you take time for yourself, especially during the holidays.
Purchase an actual calendar and post it somewhere you will see it. You need to know that there is light at the end of your chaos. Actually, seeing the time you carved out for yourself will provide you with solace, knowing that you will be able to recharge. Schedule yourself a bath, a massage, an hour to read a book, a nap, or a happy-hour with the girls. Schedule YOU time daily, even if it is only a 1/2 hour. Make sure it is an activity that allows you to disconnect and recharge your battery. Do NOT let anyone steal this time from you. Put your foot down, or you will not have a foot to put down.
Schedule everything from breakfast, shopping, dinner, and bedtime. Did you know there is such a thing called decision burnout? Making too many decisions can cause burnout. Girls, it is not in your imagination that you are exhausted at the end of the day and feel like you got nothing done. According to an article in Thrive Global, when we’re overwhelmed by too many demands, our bodies seek to conserve energy, soon even easy decisions become difficult. 
Please limit the number of choices you have to make by scheduling them in advance.
Same Bat Channel Same Bat Time
Rotate three different breakfasts, three different outfits, and pre-make dinner and freeze it, or order out. Keeping things to a limit will decrease decision making and conserve your energy sources. Don’t worry that stupid Suzy just saw you in that outfit, F Suzy! This is about you and your survival of the holidays.
Mentally Prepare For Difficult Family Dynamics
I love my family, I really do, however, there is a bit of trepidation in my soul before I walk through the door and into the family gathering. Family is the only group of people in the world that could induce unbridled fury and depth-less love all at the same time. I don’t know about you ladies, but I do not believe my family knows that I am not a 17-year-old rebellious twat anymore, (I am now a 52 year-old-twat! Haaaaaaaaa). Seriously, I am a perpetual teenager in their eyes, and the fact that I raised a child and have had two husbands is a moot point. Being suspended in a time capsule is so strange. I hardly remember being that person, but they always bring up something crazy I did, or my giant hair (it was the 80’s).
Pray Pray and Pray Some More
Before I walk into a beehive, I thank God for all the blessings in my life. I list all the things I am grateful for and focus on them one at a time. This exercise changes my perspective, and I can go into any situation with a grateful heart. Remember, there are many folks out there that have no family and nowhere to go. I believe having no one is much worse than having people who won’t let you grow up.
Bake a Gift
Make homemade gifts for the family. There is something very healing about creating something for the people you love (and drive you nuts). While creating your gifts, put on your favorite music or movie, and create with love. There is power in intention, remember that.
Make Like Duck
Let stupid comments roll off of you lie water off of a duck’s back. If the obnoxious relative refuses to grow up, let it be their problem. We are the ones that keep growing and will continue to grow despite attempts to keep us in suspension. View the comment with pity rather than fury, and walk away. Your peace is your gift to yourself.
If the obnoxious relative refuses to grow up, let it be their problem…walk away.
Set a budget (and stick to it)!
I need to get gifts for 4000 people. OK, I am exaggerating, but there are a lot of people in my clan. Do not break the bank for the holidays. The recipients will probably not remember half the gifts you give.
Decide on a realistic budget. If you can afford $300 for everyone, then $300 it is. My hierarchy allocation of funds goes like this:
spouse, my children, elders, siblings (cousins), kids (nieces, nephews), friends of the family. The spouse gets one great thing and two little things. I like to create the illusion that I am showering him with holiday cheer. The same for my kid, one great, two little. I set their budget the highest; lets say $50 each. For the elders, I try to give them something practical, like a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant. Siblings and cousins get the homemade stuff, like a jar of jam, cookies, or chocolate (since these are the folks who are most likely to bust your balls). The kids are age-dependent. I like buying for the little ones because they are easily pleased. The teens get Amazon gift cards (the only want money). For friends of the family, or unexpected folks, make extra cookies (or whatever your homemade gift ). Or you can go to the dollar store and purchase unisex hats and gloves. I do this and put them in a gift bag, just in case there is an unexpected guest.
Schedule Time With Your Chamily
Chamily – Chosen family. I did make that up but feel free to use it. My husband and I have an incredible group of friends whom we choose to spend our free time. We have gotten so close to our friends that they have become our preferred people. However, for some ungodly reason, we force ourselves to spend the celebratory times with DNA relations. This year was the first time I heard the term “Friendsgiving.” Make sure you spend some celebration time with you chamily. Host a BYOB dinner, pot luck, bring a dish, whatever keeps you on budget. Have a no-gift policy, and just laugh with your friends about your crazy relatives. Spending time with friends is centering and very important. Time with your friends always helps to help you to recharge from the rest of the nonsense. Schedule time with friends like you schedule everything else.
Well, Ladies, I hope you have a beautiful, stress-free holiday. No matter who you spend it with, try to keep in mind that this is supposed to be fun. Remember that you are doing this to create wonderful memories (so when you’re an old lady you can look back and laugh).