Thursday, November 07, 2013

Somehow Or Other, It Comes Just The Same--Even The Grinch Knew That

Pressure Busting Tip #7

When I taught high school not so very long ago, I taught five classes a day.  The average number of kids in each class was about 23-24.  Normally, my schedule was three sophomore honors classes, my Creative Writing I/II class, and my junior regular class.  Strict organization was vital to my survival.  I knew where every single piece of student work was at any given moment in its journey from the moment it was handed in to the moment it was handed back with a grade upon it.  Never once did I lose one shred of student work.  I had a system of inboxes, stamps, and codes in my gradebook that was absolutely fail-safe.  More than once a student would say, either admiringly or in sheer, unadulterated awe or amazement, "Mrs. D., you are the most organized teacher I have ever seen in my life!"  But don't misunderstand; I was never a slave to my system.  I created the system to work for me.  And it did, unfailingly.

I think that's the problem for a lot of Holiday Bringers:  they are a Slave To The System.  Rather than create a workable system for The Holidays that works for them, they instead adhere so stringently and so rigidly to a set way of doing things that they make Christmas much harder on themselves than it needs to be.  For those tensed-up people who are already making their lists and decisions in advance, I urge them to consider Pressure Busting Tip #7:  Allow yourself to be flexible for The Holidays.  Just because you tied baby candy canes to all the kid presents last year doesn't mean you have to do it every year now.  If you can't find eggnog ice cream for the dessert coffee, use something else.  Does your son want to spend part of Christmas Eve at his new girlfriend's house?  He'll be back.  Don't create drama for yourself.  Gift yourself with the special present of saying, "Oh, well.  Will we still have a lovely Christmas?  Yes.  Then I'm not going to worry about it."  So you didn't get the tree up by the first weekend of December.  Did martial law ensue?  Bet not.  It's great to plan, but your plan should be like the Pirate's Code in the movie--"more like guidelines anyway."



  1. I am all about guidelines. Similarly, at work, where I have a list of things I MUST accomplish by the time my 2 week vacation starts, when it gets close to the last day of work I start crossing things off even if I haven't done them. Ha!

  2. I agree wholeheartedly. Sometimes we must be flexible and let the things that don't matter fall by the wayside. Having a system in place to deal with busy times is indeed a good idea, though.

  3. I'm like The Bug, I have a list and when it gets closer to the event (whether it's Christmas or a party, etc.), I cross the things off that suddenly seem far less critical to success. ;-) Usually it's the lack of time that truly inspires my flexibility in all things, but Christmas around her has become a much simpler affair every year. And we like it. :-)


  4. Shirley--I hear you. Time is the Great Leveller, isn't it? One year, I realized with horror that I had completely forgotten to get the requisite (I thought) sliced cheeses for those who liked to make sandwiches out of my traditional roasted ham. Not one person asked for it, about it, or said a word. As a result, I have crossed sliced cheese off my Christmas Eve open house menu.

    J@jj--I don't get too bogged down by some bigass system at Christmas Eve because by now, having done it so many times--decades--I have it down to a science. Does this mean I'm completely calm and relaxed and can enjoy my own party? Hell no. I'm still not wired that way. That's my pathology. Sadly, I can't even eat what I've spent all day cooking. So I drink wine, nibble on doodads, and end up eating everything as leftovers on Christmas Day. But trust me, so many things have been jettisoned from what I used to do years ago! Back then, I made ten times the menu items. It's like I was on crack.

    Bug--That's the system Sam used to use when I gave him a list of chores when he was a little boy. After about half an hour, he'd come to me and say, "All done!" and show me the list with everything crossed off. So I'd go and look. Yes, his steps were cleaned off. Yes, he emptied his wastebasket., there was stuff under his bed still. And he didn't line up his toys on the shelf, etc. So I'd say, "Sam. Why aren't these things done?" He'd look up at me with his big blue eyes and say, "But, Mommy, I checked them off the list!" Sigh.


Oh, thank you for joining the fray!

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