BY DEB LUND
Nov. 8, 2013
Here we are, coming up to THAT time of year again.
We promise ourselves we’re going to do it differently this time. We’re not going to say, “Yes,” to every expectation and activity that comes our way before and during the holiday season. And here on Whidbey, we have so many options. Even if we’re not involved, we know the people who are involved.
Here’s a tip: ‘Tis the season for slowing down.
You know it is.
This is a body and mind thing. You feel it, and yet you — I, we — speed up; like children trying to stay awake, insisting over and over, “But I’m not tired!” It’s hibernation time, and instead we go into denial. Why? To make up for the lack of light. To stay awake. Maybe what we need to wake up to are our natural rhythms.
You true extroverts out there may not have a clue what I’m saying. Your dance card is full, and you’re ready to boogie. The rest of us love the idea of holidays, winter sports, celebrations, nostalgia and rituals. We live for the music, the smells, the sights, the eggnog.
And it wears us out just thinking about it.
So what’s the solution? Well, there are many, and these ten tips barely touch the surface. If you think of more, let us know below in the comment section.
- Don’t pretend that your busyness has nothing to do with the choices you make. Check out Whidbey Life Magazine for upcoming events. (No, they didn’t pay me to say that. They don’t pay me at all, except in great stories and information about what I love most about Whidbey.) Prioritize the activities you want to attend. Put them on the calendar. And then, when other options much less appealing to you come up, say no. It’s okay. Even when your neighbor’s kids are in a production and they took care of your pet turtle when you went on vacation last summer (unless it’s my kids, of course). This doesn’t mean you can’t revise your to-go list or be spontaneous. Just be aware that it’s your decision.
- Be proactive planning your downtime. Pay attention to your body. And your emotions. They’ll let you know when something is and isn’t the right thing for you to do. If you’re feeling run down, don’t push through it for fear of letting someone else down. They may be doing the same. This is also the busy season for colds and the flu. If you’re run down and exposed to everyone on Whidbey, you’re a likely candidate for some unplanned downtime. Why not schedule those downtimes at times of your own choosing?
- Yes, this is the season for baking and cooking. But remember how resentful you got last year after making and delivering your special recipe peanut butter cookies with the chocolate stars, and Aunt Hazel let her great nephews eat off all the stars? Or when you bought those expensive oysters to put in your family’s traditional oyster stew, but no one will eat it any more anyway? Could you cut the PB star recipe in half and make some smoked salmon chowder instead of oyster stew? I’m giving you permission.
- How about that big party you throw every year? I know. They all expect it now, and you work for weeks preparing, and then you cook and serve all night, cleaning for a solid week afterwards. When was the last time you really enjoyed yourself during the party? Not counting the compliments. This year, ask friends to bring dishes, and to take them home at the end of the party — after you empty the contents into containers for your lunch the next day.
- Give some thought to your gift-giving. Now. No more trips to the mall, frantically finding something— anything — for anyone on your list, at the very last moment. Clear off a shelf in a closet corner, and when you find something that’s perfect for someone you love, wrap and tag it. Unless you’re one of those who love the cheeriness of frenzied shoppers or the idea of driving endless miles — and that’s just looking for a place to park. If “I’m glad that’s over” is the sentiment you’re looking forward to, then think again. You’re more creative than that. And so are our talented artists here on Whidbey (in case you’d rather pick out something than make it yourself). Plan to check out the Whidbey holiday markets, such as “Handcrafted on Whidbey,” to find special gifts.
- Let your house be lived in. Pick things up a little if you like, but don’t make yourself and those around you crazy trying to totally do a home makeover before the holidays. You won’t have any energy left to enjoy the home or the crazy people!
- Stay home more. Light candles, put another log on the fire, listen to the music that’s perfect for the mood you want to create, read a book, play board games, do a jigsaw puzzle. Sing out lines from your favorite seasonal songs. “Baby, it’s cold outside…”
- Create new rituals for the holidays, and keep the ones you truly love. (Yes, this is another plug for throwing out the oyster stew.) On Boxing Day (the day after Christmas), we set empty boxes under our tree and everyone contributes things to bring to our amazing thrift stores. On New Year’s Day we write our resolutions in the sand at low tide, then watch them disappear. Our theory is that they either get swept out into the universe to become reality, or there’s no sign that they ever existed. Either option is good with us. More on that in January…
- So what it boils down to is this: Do what you want to do. No shoulds. It’s your choice. Make it about what is meaningful for YOU, not what others expect. And if you’re thinking this post didn’t have anything about creativity in it, read through it again. Creativity is paralyzed by shoulds, perceived expectations, drained energy, meaningless activities, and wasted time. Take care of yourself and you’ll be a lot more fun to be around this year. And a lot more creative.
- Tell people how you’re going to be more intentional about where your energy and time go this holiday season and in the coming year. Let them know the specifics, especially if it involves them. Encourage them to do the same. Stay sane — or at least sane enough to choose where you exhibit your insanity. It’s the Whidbey way.
How will you be more intentional this holiday season?
Deb Lund creates in the middle of chaos, and her life shows it. She needs to practice what she preaches more often, which is why she makes these articles public. It’s an accountability thing. You may see her singing at a few tree-lighting events next month, maybe signing books somewhere (need autographed picture books?), and hopefully dragging her kids to fewer holiday events this time around.