As Thanksgiving Day approached, I found myself scurrying around like a mad woman, cleaning. I guess it is sewn into my DNA after 52 years of holiday prepping that you can’t host dinner with your house looking like a pigsty.
As my husband cautioned that I need to relax and try not to get too worked up about the whole event, I still found myself feeling under pressure to make sure everything was perfect as could be, and that everyone would enjoy their visit.
I feel a teeny bit remorseful having so adamantly ousted a tradition I have known my entire life by wishing the Grinch had stolen it away… Especially after my brother and sister-in-law went out of their way to help me in the kitchen on this Thanksgiving. Thank you guys! XO
At the same time, it seems to me that the tradition no longer holds the meaning it had for the Pilgrims.
It’s not about the turkey, or the football games, or the all you can eat dessert bar and endless cocktails. It’s not the family quirks that you can count on every year like who drank too much, who fell asleep first, or how many visits you needed to squeeze in on this holiday.
Thanksgiving is about being thankful for your life as you know it, and for the ones you hold dear that are all a part of it.
Yet I wonder how many people are feeling ‘obligated’ rather than ‘forward’ to attending holiday gatherings in the coming weeks. Is it because we have lost touch with the reason for getting together in the first place, or is it because we are all so self-absorbed in our own lives that we can’t take a little time to appreciate the people who are in our lives?
According to a Fox News article last year, “Holidays stress out 88% of Americans.” From whose house to visit, how much money to spend on gifts, and the family arguments that could possibly ensue, it’s no wonder people are feeling a little cross about getting together in the first place.
Add a little liquid courage to the already stressful situation, and it can be a recipe for a disastrous holiday event if you’re not in the right frame of mind.
So what is one supposed to do? How do you survive an event that is supposed to be all about spending time with your ‘loved ones’?
I find myself falling into this same stressful situation year after year, but maybe it will help if I just try and remember that…
1. Things don’t have to be PERFECT!
I started a week in advance of Thanksgiving making lists of things I wanted to have done before the big day… my poor husband in tow with his own honey-do list. Thinking back now, if I had only accomplished half of the list, it would have still turned out fine.
I have realized that people usually have their own life dramas going on, and rarely see ALL you did to try and make things special anyway. So to keep stress levels down to a minimum, just pick a few special touches and be done with it.
My family didn’t care that everything may not have been to my specifications of ‘perfect’. They were just happy to be there!
2. Practice the “everything in moderation” rule.
Part of my perceived happiness for the holidays included eating and drinking anything I wanted in order to celebrate. And although I had skipped the turkey… that nasty fowl that will turn your guts inside out and give you such terrible gas that it would make a maggot puke... I still ended up with a bellyache from all the oddball sweets and snacks I had nibbled on for 4 days straight.
Luckily, I only gained 1.5 pounds this holiday, but had I been a little more mindful of the moderation rule, my belly probably would have felt better throughout the weekend.
Apologies to the innocent people I crop-dusted at the craft fair on Saturday!
3. On the day of your event, take a deep breath, leave the undone things behind you, and enjoy all the special memories you are creating with your loved ones.
The morning of Thanksgiving had me checking my list a second time and panicking about every little thing I had forgotten to do. The stress climbed from my shoulders, up my neck and landed in my temples. AHHHHH!!! At that point, I should have just walked away from the list and took some fresh air. There was no point in stressing. When the day is upon you, just enjoy it!
4. Don’t worry about the house. It doesn’t have to be immaculate because it’s just going to get dirty again anyway.
Once again, my family did not care about whether everything was perfect. They were just happy to be there. I don’t think anybody inspected my house for dust bunnies, and if they did, oh well. And as a wise person once said, “If you came to see me, come right in. If you came to see my house, make an appointment.”
I read an article a few months ago about “Acting with Kindness.” The author made a good point. She said that the true act of kindness means giving the best of what you have… not the leftovers.
If you are busy doing dishes, or worrying about cleaning up after every little mess, then you are just the same as not being there. Acting with kindness should go both ways. Treat yourself well enough that you can act with the kindness your loved ones deserve... not the leftovers.
I’m going to try my best not to stress this holiday season, and I hope you do the same.
Wishing you all Happy Holiday gatherings this 2019 season!
Thanks so much for reading!
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Gervis, Zoya 2018, https://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/the-holiday-stress-out-88-percent-of-americans-study-claims