With the holidays fast approaching, my to-do list feels like it is about to become unmanageable. There’s shopping, and cleaning, and cooking, and house guests…
I love the holidays, though, and I don’t want to get completely bogged down with chores and errands and stress. So, every year around this time, I tell myself the season doesn’t have to be exhausting, and I make a list (because lists are a thing for me) of go-to reminders to help me chill. Here are my top tips for writers and non-writers alike to make it through the holidays. Maybe these will help you too?
Not everything is urgent. Some things really can wait. Edit the to-do list. The non-essentials will be there when the hectic holiday season is over.
Do a manageable amount every day.
I may have an OCD-level organizational system, but, when I take the time to use my calendar and plan ahead, I feel in control of my time. I’m proactive instead of reactive. This time of year, it’s especially important. It’s also important that I’m realistic. I simplify first, and then try to tackle a little something every day.
Ask for help.
This is probably a hard one for most of us, but other people can contribute. I host most holidays, but the guests bring nearly all the food. My husband and I make our shopping list together and then divide it up. The kids all pitch in to catch up on laundry, get the guest rooms ready, etc.
Focus on experiences, not stuff.
Years ago, we made a decision in our house not to go crazy with Christmas gifts for our kids. We decided they’d each receive three thoughtful gifts. Instead of focusing on one day of opening presents, we tried to create a season of experiences and memories for our family. Cookie baking day, tree trimming, attending A Christmas Carol, watching It’s a Wonderful Life the Friday after Thanksgiving. We have a whole list of traditions associated with the holidays that have nothing to do with shopping or presents. This approach creates a season of things we look forward to rather than a couple of days we need to stress out about.
Today is Thanksgiving here in the US. In addition to stuffing ourselves with turkey and cranberry sauce, we also use the day to show appreciation for the people we care about and the things we have. This year, for some of us, it will be a hard day. Loved ones have been lost, illness has plagued entire households, jobs have disappeared. I’d never try to minimize the stressors and challenges others face. Still, even when my world has been upended by things I can’t control, I try to find something to be grateful for every day.
I know it sounds cliche, but refocusing on the good stuff makes the crappy parts easier to handle, especially during the holidays. I remind myself to enjoy the small moments, especially as my kids get older and we aren’t in the same place together very often. It is a busy time of year, but, it’s special too. I try not to lose sight of that.