Holidays and Stress: Refusing to Let Busyness Steal My Joy
The holidays are coming…
Does that phrase cause little tinkling bells of joy to ring in your ears? Or do sinister trombones of doom jolt your brain into pieces?
I suppose I’m somewhere in the middle. Holidays are a cause for celebration; a special time to enjoy family. A time to kick back on the couch and watch seasonal sports and Charlie Brown specials… right?
Is that true for us moms? I can’t remember the last time I sat through an entire Charlie Brown special except when I was on bedrest. It seems, at least for mom, holidays can mean endless chores in order to make the season special for everyone else.
As we just moved into a house with a large dining room space, I jumped at the chance to host Thanksgiving. What I didn’t think about was how the recent move would affect me. I’m as scatter brained as ever. I can’t find anything, including what I want to say. If I let it, hosting dinner for 20 to 40 people could push me past the brink of insanity.
But I am refusing to let stress steal my joy. Many years ago, I was the hostess with the mostess, or at least a facsimile of her. I loved making my own bread and spending hours in the kitchen preparing food that would take 10 minutes to devour. I decorated the house for each season and left my dining table beautifully set with crystal china…
Then I had children. I take a different approach to entertaining these days. It takes the stress off me and allows me to enjoy the occasion.
- First, I don’t put all the pressure onto myself. I ask others to bring food, drinks, and/or napkins etc. There is no shame in asking others to be a part of the preparation. I think it’s nice for people to bring their holiday favorites, especially when different families start blending holidays together.
- Second, I don’t try to control the details. I don’t care if someone’s stuffing doesn’t match the theme of the day or if we have three cranberry dishes. It’s not all about the food anyway. I do think with computers a sign-up sheet is a great way to make sure to have most of the bases covered, but I’m not going to cry if everything I wanted doesn’t come. If there is something I really want, then it is up to me to make it or do without it if someone forgets it.
- Third, I stock up on plastic containers, such as sour cream containers. That way I can send food home with people and not worry about my plasticware coming home.
- Fourth, I let the kids do the decorating. I put up the basics, especially for Christmas, but since my daughter was about six or seven, she has been taking care of a lot of the decorations. I did the same when I was a child. I loved it.
- Fifth, let people help when they arrive. I learned years ago that most people like to have something to do, especially if they are not entirely social or are new to the situation. Letting them take care of last-minute chores can make them feel welcome. Yes, there are some people that prefer to be waited on, so do your best to not let this rob you of your joy, too. Focus on the positives.
- Sixth, if you, like me, have a special needs child, hosting an occasion can be stressful, but can also be easier. Rachel likes her routines, so sometimes staying in her own house helps her to do better. Plus, I don’t have to worry about her destroying things in other people’s homes. I do tell people about her condition up front if they are new to my house. I also warn people—with a big smile—that clothes are sometimes optional for our autistic darling and just go with the flow. You would be surprised at how many moms nod their heads and tell me they, too, have clothing optional children. It’s a nice bonding moment.
- And last, if you set someone’s oven on fire or smoke up the house putting plastic Tupperware into the oven, just smile and put out a bowl of white vinegar. That absorbs the smell. Then focus on the fact that you will have a great holiday tale to tell for years to come… not that I would know anything about that.