The Queen of England once said she divides her days into three sections: morning, afternoon and evening. She does this to maintain a sense of balance in her life; to make sure her social calendar is not overly demanding and that she has adequate time to recharge. In any given twelve hour period she might do a morning tea with the Prime Minister and a late night royal gala with Duchess Catherine, but you better believe the afternoon of that busy day will find her perusing a leisurely foxhunt under grey English skies with her beloved Prince Philip! I have a pressing question for the monarch of my homeland, (besides, how is fox hunting particularly humane or relaxing?). My question is, where did you, our ever-enduring Beth, get the brilliant idea for dividing your daily calendar into these time slots and why did I only read about it in the past year!?! Where was this advice last Christmas, when the dark bags under my eyes were starting to look like the harbor during the Boston Tea Party and my skin was starting to resemble a good ol’ English leather saddlebag?
It took eight family events, four parties, three endless nights of wrapping, and one disastrous day of baking this past holiday season to realize that I had overdone it! Well, that and the fact that I ended up in the emergency room on Christmas Eve with an ear infection that was so inflamed it was more red than Rudolph’s shiny nose! The year before last was no better! I ended up in the hospital on New Year’s Eve at midnight with a strep throat test down my throat and gagging Auld Lang Syne! So this year I am resolved; I am going to find a way to avoid the seasonal hysteria and requisite illness that I always seem to get! I am going to achieve this by taking a cue from a woman who knows what it means to be in demand. Just like the well-seasoned Queen of Anglia, I will learn to set aside time for myself and my well-being this upcoming holiday season. That’s right! For every invite to eggnog attended, there will be a time of yuletide yawning. For every stressful family event there will be a fun, festive “nice friend only” time! For every consumerist crazed day, there will be a heartfelt moment of simple pleasures after!
Are you with me on this? Three cheers for a reasonable schedule of festivities that puts holiday happiness before an all-consuming Christmas! Easier said that done? Perhaps. But there is no harm in trying! In fact, there may be harm, if we don’t try! Burnout, resentment, sadness, and all around “Grinchiitis” might consume us if we let the demands of this holiday season get out of hand! I certainly have my own vested interest in maintaining a balanced Christmas schedule – I don’t want something like German measles on Christmas Day this year, (I know, a little hypochondriacal – I’m just saying!). So here is a round up of the best advice I could find about how to balance your life over the holidays. I would suggest start with the Queen’s motto of dividing your days into three sections and don’t plan any day with events or to do’s in all three time slots. Then, use the tips below to keep your holiday plans hapless and your festive cheer in full swing! Finally, don’t be afraid to actually celebrate the season for what it is – a big birthday party where we all get to celebrate the birth of love incarnate: the love God has for us, the love He wants us to have for each other, and the love that is meant to rule in our hearts well beyond the Christmas season!
Don’t Bridget Jones It! – Take Charge of Festive Fun:
Feeling like your only holiday celebration this year will be a dry and drab turkey curry buffet a la Bridget Jones? Become intentional about your holiday plans. What do you enjoy doing? Is it drinking candy cane flavored hot chocolate and skating on a local pond? What about walking downtown and looking at all of the Christmas decorations? Maybe it’s making homemade gingerbread and watching some holiday RomComs? Heck, it could even be reliving your childhood by sticking your tongue to a freezing pole with your best friend (as long as you both bring a thermos of hot water). Whatever it is, call your friends or family, and make a plan, make a date, and do it! Take control of your holiday happenings and reap the sheer joy and bliss you feel!
Get Support Over the Holidays:
It always starts the same. You make strudel from scratch, get dressed in your newly downsized jeans, and style your hair in the new do you saw on last night’s Project Runway. The next thing you know, you are at your family gathering – your strudel is untouched, you get asked if you are pregnant again, and then told you can “ still fix your hair before anyone else gets here.” Ah, the blessed family event. We love our families, we love the holidays but what is it about the two things together that bring out just about the worst in everyone? So here’s the plan. If you are going into a holiday family event and you are unsure what lies beyond the Christmas wreath on your Great Aunt Agatha’s door, first, make sure you have an exit strategy. Develop a plan for when you’d like to leave if things are going well and a time you plan to leave if things are not going so well. Make sure you have your own way to and from the event so you are not stranded at the hands of a serial socializer! Second, tell your closest, and preferably funniest, friend that you are nervous about the evening then take bathroom breaks and communicate via text about the event. Think of all the ways you can express yourself…..:)…..;)…..}:)…..=(….. LOL!……BTW! This is helpful to your own emotional well being, but it is also fun and it will definitely make you laugh (something we all really need to learn to do when it comes to family dynamics)! You know what they say: “you might as well laugh, or you might just cry!”
Do More of What You Love and Love More of What You Do:
It seems like the more life speeds up, the more we forget to take care of ourselves – to pamper ourselves. We have relationships, friends, children, careers, homes, cars, etc. that we need to tend to. How can we find the time to get our nails painted, our eyebrows waxed, and our bodies massaged? Even more pressing, during this holiday season of shopping, how do we find the money? Well, we can start by carving out some time, after the workday is done, after the house is cleaned, after the hubby is loved, after the friends are called, after the children are in bed, to take care of ourselves. Pull out a bright, sparkly nail polish, put some Epsom salts and scented oil in a steaming hot bath, cut up some cucumber for those tired eyes.
Showing our bodies and minds the smallest gestures of self-love can lead to incredible contentment and happiness. The holidays are meant for giving but how often do we give ourselves the pampering we really deserve? So go for it! Shower yourself with small indulgences this holiday season and see the difference it makes!
Beat Scrooge Once and For All:
Finally, give back and give often. There are a million ways to give back during the holidays. From donating some socks and gloves to a local shelter, to visiting elderly people at a nursing home, to baking cookies and giving them to the neighbors – there are so many ways to remember what the season is really about.
When we embrace the spirit of giving we come to find that Christmas is not, after all, just about giving fancy packages filled with high end items. Christmas is about giving from the heart; not only being thoughtful to those we love but to those who need love as well. Remember, Tiny Tim’s words, “God Bless us, everyone!”, ring just as true for the make believe world of A Christmas Carol, as they do for us today!
As we struggle with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season let us remember that we are giving our time, gifts, and love to others because we are celebrating the fact that God has given us the greatest gift of all: His love in the form of a helpless babe in a barn! May we celebrate the meaning of Christmas all year through by recognizing this holiday for what it is: the birthday of the one who came to show us God’s love and a new way of life!
“Fail not to call to mind, in the course of the twenty-fifth of this month, that the Divinest Heart that ever walked the earth was born on that day; and then smile and enjoy yourselves for the rest of it…” ~Leigh Hunt
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays my dear friends! XOXO