Friday, November 01, 2013

This Is A Public Service Announcement: This Year Can Be Different! Live The Life You Dream Of!

Dearest Readers, hello--and believe me when I tell you that I don't mean this in a Threatening Way at all--welcome to November.

I know, right?  I was as astonished as you were by its arrival this morning.  The top of my To Do List still reads "1.  Find September!!"  The whole thing is probably a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, but onward we must.

The worst thing, truly, is now that we've dispensed with Halloween, THE HOLIDAYS are officially upon us.  I honestly believe that the only reason Halloween hasn't been wadded up into THE HOLIDAYS is because it involves death and dressing up as slutty examples of everyday occupations and items.  If retailers could find a way to straighten out and clean up Halloween a little--make it more wholesome and jolly--THE HOLIDAYS would start right around September 1st.  You know I'm right.  This is a country where opening stores at 4 A.M. the Friday after Thanksgiving wasn't enough.  Now stores are open on Thanksgiving Day.  And they are crowded with shoppers. 

Where are all those outraged Christian picketers?  Get them away from the clinics and herd them over to Macy's.


How sad that it has become cliché to lament about the commercialization of holidays although heretofore it was Christmas, and now it's Thanksgiving.  It's simply terrible what's happened to these holidays.  Right now, it's easy to maintain the integrity of my Thanksgiving.  I won't be going shopping, and I know Rick, Jared, and Sam won't be either. 

It's harder to hold the line for Christmas.  Once November 1st hits, it's as if some invisible dam has broken, some ban has been lifted, some wall breached.  Radio stations sneak carols on; more commercials featuring Holiday themes interrupt your television viewing; and there is the constant reminding of the number of days left until Christmas.  Your friends, relatives, even strangers in line ahead of you at Subway are telling you how far along they are in their Christmas shopping.  Sadly, it is considered impolite to say, "Oh Shut Up," however calmly or smilingly you may suggest it.

Don't fall victim to this pressure.  Let this be the Christmas you relax and enjoy.  To that end, I am going to offer my Dearest Readers a Pressure Busting Tip every day during the month of November.  That way, it will be Nice And Early, and you can put them on your December calendar, if necessary, to remind you what you're NOT doing or doing a little less of or doing differently this year.  These have all been tried and tested by yours truly.

Pressure Busting Tip #1

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday.  Enjoy it on its own.  It is the one family holiday meant to be enjoyed without the exchanging of presents that you had to shop for while fighting crowds, uncertainty, frustration, and the eventual resignation that you have to get an impersonal gift card.  If you are the cook, decide to cut back on one side dish or variety of dessert so that you don't have to juggle oven times or worry about fridge space.  It will be fine.  If someone asks what she can bring, tell her.  If you are not the cook, be a delightful and courteous guest, but hey! You're a grownup.  If you're not having a good time, go home.  Trust me, they'll all get over it.  Really, they will.  Fake a headache if you have to.  They'll know, but it'll be okay.

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  1. First, before I forget, I saw this and thought of you.

    Nextly, this is all very good advice indeed. I find myself feeling fairly smug about the holidays, because I refuse to get stressed out. Our Thanksgiving is one where everyone contributes, so no one has to do all of the cooking. Christmas, most of my gifts have to be mailed, which means planning ahead and getting it done, which does remove quite a bit of stress. I take the week of Thanksgiving and the week of Christmas off from work. I especially enjoy the week after Christmas, because it's so relaxing and quiet.

    This year, my dad and step mom are coming down to CA from OR for Thanksgiving, which I am REALLY looking forward to. We get along very well. We will not hit the shops after Thanksgiving, though I suspect we may go into the city for some Dim Sum.

    Keep the tips coming, I suspect they will be appreciated!


  2. Nance,

    This is what you wrote:

    "Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday. Enjoy it on its own. It is the one family holiday meant to be enjoyed without the exchanging of presents that you had to shop for while fighting crowds."

    All true, UNLESS you happen to be Jewish;in which case,the first day of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving fall on the same day this year.So, you WILL be setting up your Menorah and the paper pilgrims that the kids made in first grade at the same time.

    Good luck with that holiday. In our house,at least, things would go pretty smooth as long as you had an X-Box game for the boy, a Barbie Doll for the girl, and made sure that Uncle Morty got a drumstick.....

  3. Nancy--Yikes. I had no idea, so I guess my Christian-Upbringing Bias is showing. Sigh. I apologize to my Jewish readers since this series of tips clearly will exclude them. On the other hand, they can sit smugly in the bleachers and loges and laugh and laugh while all the goy (?) put themselves through these self-created tortures.

    J@jj--Thank you for thinking of me! What a cute bunny. And the squash it's posing with happens to be one of my favorites. I haven't found a single one of them this year, come to think of it, which is odd. They were everywhere last year.

    Nextly (I love this word now), I am no authority on lessening holiday stress, but it seems like people bitch about it all the time (including me), so I thought, why not? I know that I have streamlined my holiday a ton, as have a lot of my readers (whose advice I have followed, too!), so why not toss some out there and maybe help a bit? And I won't confine myself to just tips for posts; I'll do regular stuff too.

    Really, I wish we could start a movement, especially for women since we are The Holiday Bringers, to simplify the holidays and stop trying to make them such a bigass deal. Rather than overdo them to make them Full Of Memories And Wonder, we should relax and make them Full Of Love And Family. Period. Sounds like you do that already, and I heartily applaud you.

  4. As a certified Type B, I have never chosen to exhaust myself around the holidays in order to make it PERFECT. I just do not have the genetic makeup for that type of energy expenditure.

    Funny that you should mention not hanging with family you don't really want to be around, because this is the first year we have decided that our small nuclear family will go and do something "alone" and different than the norm this Thanksgiving. We are thinking of picking up some food and hanging out at the beach!

  5. Gina--GOOD FOR YOU, GROWNUP! Let me tell you, that was the Turning Point in my life as a Wife And Mother. Our kids started thinking that every single holiday meant getting in their carseats. Rick and I finally told our parents very cheerily and calmly that it was time for our little family to begin its own Family Holiday Traditions. That we would not be travelling elsewhere for Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day anymore. Our home would be open to anyone who cared to visit, and they would receive a warm welcome, but we needed to stay at home from now on.

    There was some disappointment, but more understanding. At some point, you have to just do it for YOUR family. Again, good for YOU.

  6. I decided a long time ago that "THE HOLIDAYS" are far too much work and very expensive. Hence, these are the rules at our house.

    1. Our little Christmas tree stays up year round in a corner of the living room. Every once in a while we add something to its decor, regardless of the time of year. There is a lot of Hello Kitty and horse-y stuff on it. We love the lights. Decorations are done.

    3. We do not cook "the big meal" for Thanksgiving or Christmas. WAY too much work. If we happen to be invited somewhere, we take something store-bought and a nice bottle of wine. Otherwise, we either order a pre-assembled meal from a local high-end grocery store or do one of our favorites in the crock pot. And we buy a couple pies. Cooking done.

    3. I have no relatives in California, but my mom has been coming out for Christmas for a long time. My daughter's dad's family is local but we stopped doing Christmas with them a couple years ago, as we were just done. My mom may or may not come out this year due to changes in her health, so we will probably be on our own, as it's just not feasible for us to travel with our horse commitments. I'm perfectly fine with that. Family done.

    4. The gift insanity. I told everyone I know a long time ago that I don't want to exchange gifts EVER. When my daughter was little I was ok with the fact that some people MUST buy children a gift, but I made it clear that I would rather get together to share a meal and spend time than buy gifts. I didn't really have the money for a long time, and many of my friends were not so secretly relieved. Now I feel that who cares about "stuff"? I already have most of the things I need, and a meal and time for catching up are far more fun.

    5. The few gifts I do buy (my mother and daughter are about it) are almost all purchased online. Why on earth would anyone get up at ungodly hours or wait in long lines to buy anything? If I feel like shopping at 3 am (highly unlikely but certainly possible) I can look at millions of websites without leaving the comfort of my bed. Shopping done.

    It's taken a number of years, but I finally simplified the holidays. They are now mostly quiet events spent with family and friends and horses. That's good enough for me.

  7. Good advice, Nance! I do love Thanksgiving the most. It used to be Christmas, but when I gave up the need for perfectionism, all the Christmas glitz and gifts, etc., Thanksgiving became my new fave. Food and family/friends are the best things to celebrate and enjoy and that seems to be done best at Thanksgiving. :-) I'm hosting Christmas for my family this year. We haven't had a Christmas tree the last couple of years, so I'm wondering what we'll do this year. Hmmm. I am definitely looking forward to your tips!


  8. Shirley--You've probably already mastered all of my tips, knowing you and your philosophy. It will be fun to see. Also fun to see will be whether or not the new kitty comes in for a little Christmas tree climbing and playtime. Nice to see you here again.

    LaFF--Now, see? You could have done this on your own blog ages ago. And I guess you can skip reading here for a bit although I'll be putting up a couple of other posts, too. But, really, isn't it a shame how a lovely holiday like Christmas came to represent nothing but extra work and trouble? I really resent that.

  9. This is the time of year when I wish I'd had kids. Not for the children's sake, but simply because I could have told our families that we needed to start making our own traditions & we'd see them sometime in the summer. But noooo, since it's just Mike & me we have to schlep to NC every Christmas (and many Thanksgivings too). We have too much family guilt to give it a pass. I thought once both of our mothers were gone we could break away, but our dads seem just as expectant as our mothers were.

    P.S. Hilarious that you started posting every day at the exact moment I had to take a wee break from reading blogs :)

  10. Bug--Are you the ONLY FAMILY that your dads have? Will they be alone in the dark, sad and cold, if you and The Professor don't come?

    I'm not trying to lay MORE guilt on you for your choices, just trying to get you to see that you really do have choices. Your dads will miss you, sure, but will they disown you? Likely, no. The first step of any journey is the hardest. Just think about it.

    Oh, and you were missed around here, but everyone needs a break! Don't worry. I knew you were out there someplace.

  11. Mike & I each have one brother - & yes they would fill the void somewhat. Maybe since I'm turning 50 in March I will Make Changes to our holiday plans next year. I often resent not being able to attend my own church at Christmas. Ever!

    On the other hand, I like being with family at Christmas & they're certainly not going to come to Ohio!


Oh, thank you for joining the fray!

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