Posted on December 1, 2016
Managing the holiday season sanely
I have lapsed a bit on blogging due to a hectic week. I had my ankle screws out yesterday and it is a lot more painful than the original surgery was, work is super busy, and Christmas is bearing down on us at a fast clip. It’s all a bit overwhelming for sure!
December is always a ridiculously busy month for me. There is Christmas, sure, but my birthday is also in December, and then there is New Years, and then after that my brother and my father share a birthday five days later. So for three weeks in a row during the holiday season it is non-stop celebrations. It’s also a non-stop money pit, if I am quite honest.
This year though I am limited physically for what I can accomplish during this season. While historically it’s been a whirlwind of running around trying to fit everything in time-wise, this year I have had to resolve myself to not being able to do everything I usually do.
When most people are faced with being disabled they have revelations about the importance of slowing down after they have been forced into not be so busy. I joke that I am the opposite: being disabled has taught me that I am a super type A personality who likes to get things done. Not being able to do things hasn’t taught me anything but how much I hate not being able to do things! I have had to change my ways and rely on others a lot more than I am used to, and I am grateful for all the help I have had.
Still, I’ve had to do some things differently this Christmas season and maybe my little adventure will help you cull back the craziness of the holiday season.
I made a list: Santa was right, make your list and check it twice. When you know what your game plan is, it is easier to stick to it.
I bought all my gifts online: I know some people buy more when they shop online but it has the opposite effect on me: I make a list, buy what is on the list, and then I check out. I know if I hit the mall I will buy more than I need so this year I did all my shopping online. I still need a few stocking stuffers for the kids but that will have to be with a well-timed excursion some lunch hour (with a list!).
I asked for help: usually I do all the shopping and Mr. Tucker stays out of it (he hates shopping). This year though we had to buy our gifts for the yearly Friend’s Kris Kringle Gift Exchange Party for Toy Mountain (a post coming on that soon) at a brick and mortar store. So I sent Mr. Tucker out on a mission and he came back with exactly what we needed. It helped that I sent him out with pictures and links. I may have to enlist his help with the stocking stuffers as well. Since he works from home and his company is in another time zone, often he can head out first thing in the morning during the weekdays and nab things before the stores get busy and before he has to be at work.
I say no: There are parties abounds this time of year; for everything we say “yes” to, we have to say “no” to three others. Since this is such a busy time of year we really try to narrow down the parties as much as possible. Given that most of them a> conflict with each other, and b> are adult-only events, we’d bankrupt ourselves trying to hit something every weekend. I am so grateful to our friends who invite us to join them to celebrate the season but a lot of the time it just isn’t feasible to us. I have limited our celebrations to one a weekend, with priorities going to family-friendly events.
I don’t care too much about my birthday: Honestly, if it weren’t for the kids who think the highlight of every birthday should be cake and balloons, I’d skip the whole thing altogether. I like my birthday, I am not scared of getting older or anything silly like that, I just prefer low-key events. In the past we’ve usually done dinner with my brother and SIL but since we are on a particularly tight budget this year, we’ve decided to skip it. Instead we’ll get some food from a local Thai restaurant and then have cake at home.
Our advent game is strong
I focus on events, not stuff: As adults it’s generally accepted that most of us could just buy whatever we want. It seems silly to make lists for each other of things we’d just buy ourselves anyway. Still, my family does love opening gifts so instead I have placed a hard limit on the amount we spend. Instead I like to focus on the events we enjoy this time of year: our friend Christmas party, our neighbourhood cookie decorating party, our virtual Solstice, baking cupcakes for the Mission, and Christmas dinner with family. These are the things I look forward to year-after-year.
Christmas dinner is a group affair: Since Mr. Tucker and I connect both of our families and have the smallest kids, we often host Christmas dinner. What’s nice though is that we will cook the turkey and stuffing but our families usually bring potatoes, buns, vegetables, wine, and pie. That way one person isn’t responsible for everything. Our families also will help clean up afterwards, which is amazing. Since 2016 has been especially bad for us it is nice to know we can rely on their help for the holidays.
I keep perspective: These dark, winter days are the perfect time to remember gratitude and look forward to more light. 2016 was a really difficult year for our family in a lot of ways but there were a lot of good times, too: Nick and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary in Italy, we took the kids to Disney World, they spent a week at a cottage with friends, as well as a lovely group camping weekend. As this time of year is all about focusing on family and friends, I find myself counting my blessings more and more as the year comes to a close. Part of that is appreciating how much we have as well as realizing what we don’t really need.
So while my type A personality finds the inability to do as much as I would like rather infuriating, the rest of me is glad for the respite. In the end Christmas will still happen, the kids will still be amazed and happy, we will all eat, drink, and be merry with friends and family. To be quite honest, that really is what any of us could ever hope for. I wish a happy, healthy, peaceful December to all of you and I hope you spend more time enjoying the season than shopping for it.