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Archive for December, 2010

Janet’s New and Improved Holiday Tips

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

As many of you know, I have a love/hate relationship with the winter holidays. Leaning more toward hate. As I have finally figured out, they aren’t going away. In fact, they start in July now. Counting January sales, we only have five Christmas-free months of the year. Basically, for self-preservation, I had to confront my loathing of the holidays. I went into deep therapy and now have come out the other side abhorring them a little less. For holiday-haters like me, I thought I’d pass along some tips that came out of my primal holiday scream therapy and helped restore a bit of happiness to the season.

Tip One: Learn the power of the word “NO!” It is magical. If you hate the holidays like I did, it’s because you don’t feel you have the power to say no to a mountain of extra work. Well, you do. If you really don’t want to do something, don’t. Or find a way to do it that makes you feel the least like a victim. More importantly, figure out what you want to do and do that. Pick things you like to do. Delegate everything else.  Of course, you’d do the task better, but realize your control freak side is the whole reason you got into this mess in the first place. That and the fact that most women grew up thinking that we had to serve others to be loved. To receive attention and be “a good girl” we cooked and cleaned and helped Mom.

Warning: when you first say no, you will be blanket-bombed with guilt. Unless you take some Prozac first. The guilt attack will not be from your family, although it’s quite possible you’ll upset people because no one likes change. Least of all families with their holiday traditions. But mostly the guilt will come from you. Ignore this horrid wave of pain. Here’s the truth: they will all love you, anyway. Even if you didn’t make those fantastic cookies. Even if you don’t clean anything or cook, they will still love you. Think about the times you couldn’t come through because you were sick. Let go of that written-in-stone obligation crap. Unless you stop it, the trend never ends.

As you will find out, most of this guilt stuff is in your head. Your family isn’t really paying attention to what you do. Mostly they don’t care if you help or not. Besides, there’s always another martyr willing to carry the cross. Or sometimes a miracle happens and everyone does equal shares of the work. Once you set your boundaries, you’ll be amazed how well everything can turn around. I discovered I actually like entertaining. I just found a way to do it on my own terms. First, I start with mimosas then switch to eggnog with brandy…

Tip Two: Submit to the torment. There is no escape. Really. Fighting it only makes it worse. Mainly the holidays are the only times the family gets together. Don’t miss these horrid moments of torture. Experiencing mass trauma bonds people like no other glue. Besides, holidays are where future family jokes are created. You don’t want to miss events like when Uncle Al put on the Santa costume, tripped, fell into the fireplace and caught on fire, do you? Or when Aunt Gilda lost her teeth biting into Mom’s fruitcake?

Tip Three: Don’t overspend. You will feel less like an idiot in January if your credit card bill is not equal to the cost of a cruise to Tahiti. Because all you’ll think is, “Damn it, I could have gone to Tahiti for this.” Ask yourself why you are spending so much. Can you really afford it? Family members will love you whether you get them a nice gift or not. Unless they are under thirteen. With the slow economy, everyone understands cutting back. Make a budget and stick to it. You can’t buy love and the holidays will return in five months. Save some money for the early sales.

Tip Four: If you still have family and are speaking to them, count yourself lucky and take that as your best holiday gift. There are those this holiday season who don’t have a family to complain about. There are those who have lost loved ones this year that they actually liked. If you’re having a relatively peaceful holiday and no one ends up bloody or in jail, realize how blessed you are. They may be demented and annoying, but they’re your family. Love them.

For the record, as much as I have complained about the holidays, I’m extremely lucky. My family is both attractive and entertaining. Everyone is funny. Mostly all you hear is loud laughter. Especially after the third round of drinks. I am blessed to have both of my parents still here. And for those who followed my columns about my sister and her stroke two and a half years ago, I am thankful for every moment I have with her. And she will be spending Christmas weekend with me. While I bitch and moan and complain, these are some of my favorite pastimes. In no way should it reflect on my relatives. Well, most of them.

Because as Christmas looms near, I look forward to having my noisy, funny, boisterous, delightful family filling my house to its rafters, spilling wine on my rugs, loving each other, hugging each other, posing for funny photos—with kids and dogs running all over the place. My family members are loud. They are amazing. And I love them more than anything in the world.

So my final words are to my awesome family: Thanks for being in my life and thanks for loving me so thoroughly. You are always in my heart, your smiling faces in my mind, your laughter still rings in my ears, even though we may be miles apart. Love to all.

Oh, and don’t forget the beer.

©2010, Janet Periat

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