Did you notice the Christmas decorations going up on Halloween? Did a chill run down your spine? The holiday season seems to be getting longer and longer and shorter. Yes, shorter. Look at the expectations this season puts on you. Fifty five days are nowhere near enough to achieve Countess MarthaRachelNigelaPaula FoodNetwork perfection. I’m not sure I’m even up to Real Simple standards.
So much to do! Are your cards out? Did you shop ’til you dropped on Black Friday? Did you make wonderful decorations out of recycled materials? Have you picked the absolutely perfect gift for everyone on your list? Do you have color-coordinated wrapping paper, tags, and ribbon? Can you tie a perfect bow?
When will you be having your holiday party? What will you serve? What will you wear to everyone else’s event? Do you know what to tip your hairdresser? What’s the politically correct holiday greeting? So many questions, so little time!
Holiday madness really set in when I visited a friend form Thanksgiving. She had decided that she didn’t feel up to cooking, so she ordered from her local supermarket. And then began to obsess. It wouldn’t taste good. There wouldn’t be enough. Turkey, cranberry sauce, whole wheat rolls, roasted butternut squash, mashed potatoes and a pumpkin pie clearly was not enough for five people. We added extra side dishes – home made cranberry sauce, candied chestnuts, fruit stuffing, baked onions, candied sweets, baked sweets, peas with fresh mushrooms and three more pies. Oh – and at the last minute she ran back for a turkey breast – just in case.
Everything tasted great, and we all had a good time, but it really made me think about how easy it is to get caught up in holiday excess.
So – how will you have a peaceful holiday season? Here are a few simple suggestions.
1. Just like Santa, make a list and check it twice. While you’re checking, do a little reality check. Are you buying gifts for too many people? Are you planning on spending an unrealistic amount on each? Have you burdened yourself with impossible-to-find items? (No, my cousin will probably NOT get that antique fruit bowl this year.)
2. Only accept invitations that make you happy. If that means none, go for it! An unbreakable prior engagement is always a valid excuse. No one needs to know that the engagement may be with your couch.
3. Wear comfortable clothes. Always. Don’t let tight shoes or a dubious neckline spoil your fun.
4. Shop in comfortable shoes. Carry your wallet someplace easy for you to reach but hard for anyone else to get at. Don’t burden yourself down with too many packages.
5. Buy on line. Presents, dinner, cards, reservations – all just a click away.
6. If you must send packages, remember that the Postal Service will now pick up packages at your home.
7. Don’t bake unless you would go into a serious depression if deprived of the experience. If you do bake, set limits. I will never again have more containers of cookies than can fit on a fully extended kitchen table.
8. This one is for next year. Pick up interesting gifts throughout the year. If you travel, this is a great way to have truly unique gifts. Just don’t forget where you put them. Last year I gave several lovely objects I’d bought in Sicily three years ago. I’d put them in a safe place. At least they eventually surfaced.
9. Simplicity is very classy. Repeat that twenty times, then start cutting back on your plans.
10. Gift cards are a wonderful thing. Want to give the perfect gift? Not only are gift cards perfect, but you can fit them in your carry-on luggage.
11. Travel light. Carry your pills, jewelry and one-ounce containers or the liquids you need. Wear something comfortable and a bit classy so that if your luggage is lost you’re reasonably prepared.
12. Block out time on your calendar to do absolutely nothing but take care of yourself – whether that means go to a movie, meditate, get a massage, or just take a nap. Pace yourself.