Are you already stressed out that you’ll get stressed out during the Holidays?
Are you checking your medicine cabinets and making sure that all of your prescriptions are filled? For yourself and for everyone in your family?
Are you already budgeting more money for therapy and Botox?
Do you laugh hysterically at news about the Fiscal Cliff and say to yourself, “If they only knew!” while you shop on the Internet with maxed out credit cards while stuffing yourself with boxes of See’s candy?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you’ve come to the right place!
The following is some wisdom that will not only help you through this time of woe…
But will hopefully bring you some “Ho, Ho Ho’s!” as you laugh yourself right through the season!
Just remember that whoever you are and whatever you celebrate, you’re not alone if you feel like you’re losing your mind and gaining pounds at the same time!
Listen up boys and girls . . .
1. People in your family will drive you crazy.
If you’re like me, there are people in your family you wish you weren’t related to. Perhaps you’ve even used the free one-week trial subscription to Ancestry.com in order to find out if your sister or even your father was really adopted, and with great faith.
The point here is that no one likes everyone in their family and that you’re not alone! As a matter of fact, it’s reported that most people are more stressed about having to spend time with their family during the holidays than just about anything else.
So here’s what you can do:
For starters, before you venture off to your happy little Kumbaya occasion, make peace with the fact that your family is really, really annoying, and either do some yoga, watch some yoga or just think about yoga for a few blissful moments.
Get real with the fact that yes, you might have some Republicans, tree haters and even hunters in your family!
In my case, my father starts making martinis at around 11 a.m. Christmas morning, which leads to some nice behavior by some family members and naughty behavior by others.
Remembering “who is naughty and who is nice” will help you to deal with your angst and your suffering.
But most importantly, remember to breathe.
And for your own sanity and your family’s… remember that the Holidays will not go on forever—this is a proven matter of fact, by the way.
At least if you make peace with my mantra, you will not be surprised as you sob into into your Eggnog or Manischewitz in utter hysteria.
2. Make peace with your weight gain.
That’s right, not only will you not lose weight for any upcoming holiday parties, you’ll be fatter! That goes for family get-togethers and for office shindigs.
Just ain’t gonna happen.
Statistics prove that most people gain up to as much as five or more pounds during the holidays, and even more when they try to abstain while sneaking naughty bits when no one is looking.
My advice is to first make peace with the fact that you’ll plump out a little bit, but that does not make you a bad person, or even an unattractive one.
Nearly everyone either gets a little rounder, a little tipsier and a little more emotional during the holiday season, that’s a given. The good news is that you will resemble Santa Clause even more!
The best thing to do is eat and drink whatever you can’t seem to avoid, but in smaller portions as the food and cocktails never seem to stop a’coming.
For instance, if you know you have a kids’ holiday party at lunchtime, a cocktail party at the office in the afternoon, and then a friend’s house for dinner… pace yourself!
Use small plates so that you trick yourself into thinking that you are eating more, and by all means abstain from drinking until after you have something to eat.
Studies have shown that people often drink more alcohol when they’re actually just hungry or thirsty.
But please by all means—even though you might look like a stuffed sausage—go ahead and buy that new red cocktail dress or skinny jeans anyway- it is good for the economy!
Chances are that during all of these parties, everyone will be so worried about their own waistbands, they won’t be bothered about yours.
So rejoice in your new zoftig-nicity and maybe even purchase some Pajama Jeans!
3. Expect to re-gift your gifts.
If you’re anywhere past 30, you should know by now that you’ll probably only like 10 percent of the gifts you receive! And even that’s a generous number!
Seriously, does anyone really ever wear that fuzzy striped turtleneck sweater in public or read old versions of the Atlas or Farmer’s Almanac? Or what about that little DVD set of every Law and Order episode ever made?
If you’re really smart, you’ll have the Science of Gifting, Re-Gifting, Returning and Exchanging down to an Art! Remember the Seinfeld episode when Jerry gets back the sweater he originally gave away? Don’t fall into what I call The Jerry Syndrome!
Here’ some tip-top advice:
Keep a list of what each person gave to you, so you don’t give them back the same gift next year.
Keep three large boxes or bags:
>> One for gifts you plan to exchange or return that are two scary or weird to regift to anyone,
>> Another for gifts you can regift to people for future occasions, other than the holidays,
>> And the last for giveaway and charity that are nice but for some reason don’t follow into any of the other categories.
Some examples: a hand-knitted sweater big enough for your entire family to fit in, Richard Simmons exercise tapes, and a lifetime supply of Fruitcakes.
The important thing to remember is that the holiday season is really all about giving and receiving, and that no matter what you give or get, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”
And by all means, appreciate the fact that you have friends and family at all as there are some who don’t!
4. Don’t drink and talk… at the same time.
The things we often remember hearing most at holiday parties are often memorable because they were either rude, crude or lewd!
Don’t be one of those people who embarrasses themselves and becomes the gossip by the water cooler, subjects of Facebook and Twitter posts, and forever be known as the weirdo who told everyone that you really wished you had married, divorced or slept with someone other than your significant other.
Here’s some advice:
Don’t drink around people. Seriously. If you want to avoid any embarrassments, drink responsibly only at home, around your dog, or around photos of your dog. If you only have a gerbil, that will work too.
Remember that alcohol might take the edge off and make you seem more relaxed and sociable, but in reality, drinking usually makes people look sloppy, stupid, overbearing and just plain “drunk.”
If you insist on drinking, drink two to three sips of water for every one sip of alcohol. This may still give you the buzz you think you need, without giving people the opportunity to buzz about you later.
Relax in knowing that everyone is flustered, stressed out and a bit uncomfortable during the holidays, and that drinking may actually make things worse. So kick back, enjoy eggnog without alcohol and watch other people make fools out of themselves instead!
5. Remember that the holidays will be over soon.
I know that you think that I’m either lying to you or just trying to pull one over on you… but it’s true! I am lying to you!
Seriously, the holidays are pretty much officially over after New Year’s Eve, although you may suffer from what I call Post Traumatic Holiday Disorder for weeks after.
Now while I know that knowing that the season won’t last forever doesn’t necessarily help…
Perhaps some of the following bits of silly wisdom will:
Remember to laugh at yourself and maybe even wear something so terrible and silly that you will laugh at the photo immediately, and not have to wait 10 years!
Know that everyone else is suffering from the hustle and bustle as much as you are and that you are not alone!
When you feel super stressed out, try and find a quiet place—for example a bathroom, a closet, Mitt Romney’s campaign headquarters—and close your eyes and imagine the quiet and warm beginnings of Springtime, which is really just around the corner.
Even though you think that you’re going to truly lose it if you hear Bing Crosby’s White Christmas one more time, have faith that you’ll like him again in another ten months.
Surround yourself with nature as much as you can, even if it just means staring blindly at National Geographic magazines . . . sniffing the Christmas tree doesn’t count.
Visualize yourself as a calm spirit, as a shadowy forest, and as a deep sunset— and if you can do that a lot … share with me some of what you’re smoking!
6. Expect to lie to your kids… and say some really weird things!
I know that we parents don’t really want to think of ourselves as terrible liars, but only as mere fibbers or wacky storytellers. And that’s okay!
But truly, anyone with little and even big youngsters knows that during the holidays we have to stretch not only our wallets but our stories if we want their Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanza and any other holiday to be oh-so-very special!
Be Prepared to say some of the following:
I know that I usually tell you “Not to talk to Strangers,” but I need you to both talk to and sit on this strange fat man’s lap with the red suit for our Christmas photo-op and tell him to get you a present!
Elves are tiny little men in green suits who make all of your presents, and then they’re delivered to WalMart and Target and then picked up by Santa on Christmas Eve.
If you’re Jewish or even half Jewish like me, you tell your kids that they are lucky because they have eight whole days of Chanukah instead of just one day of Christmas!
By the way, some Jews even tell their kids there’s a magic man they call Hanukah Harry to rival Santa… only Harry delivers presents after Christmas because he gets them 50 percent off, and Buy Two, get one Free!
You tell them “It’s not that some members of your family are cheap, they’re just ‘really green’ and believe in recycling their own very personal items!”
When your kids tell you that your turkey and stuffing tastes just like the Box’o Holiday Dinner from Dennys, tell them that they stole your recipe, as you hide the to-go boxes in your underwear drawer—sorry for that image.
It’s not that Aunty Sheila is crazy or that Grandpa Jake is insane, it’s just that they’re very special and that’s why we make them lots and lots of Special Eggnog!
7. Your house will be a mess for about a month—or six.
Just admit it, your house wasn’t even that clean before the holidays began, so stop your yappin !
But that’s not saying that it isn’t even worse now, with all of the cooking, wrapping and empty tissue boxes around from all of your seasonal crying.
Here are a few ways to deal better with your Messy Holiday World:
Have a designated room or space where you will wrap all of your presents! In other words— don’t let holiday cards, paper, decorations and ornaments take over your entire home.
Before the magic day, go through your kid’s closets and get rid of toys, clothes and gadgets they don’t even know they have to get ready for more stuff. Not only will this keep your household mess under some control—you can donate their barely-played-with things to charity to deserving and needy kids.
Designate household chores—if there were ever a time to get your family to pitch in, it’s now!
Guilt and threats like “I might decide to run away the day before Christmas” . . . “I have decided not to celebrate the Holidays because I am too busy cleaning all by myself” . . . and “Santa is my boyfriend and he has decided to skip Christmas because I told him too” . . . have worked for me.
Try and have only one party, and avoid what I call the Open-Door-Policy holiday house—who cares if your co-workers finally have to meet your parents and kids and vice versa? Maybe they’ll all have more sympathy for you if they meet everyone you have to deal with. And you’ll avoid having to spruce up your house more than once!
Budget a few dollars here and there to save for a cleaning service to come to your house about a week after the holidays, let’s just say January 7 when most kids go back to school.
Come on, you deserve it! Give yourself “the gift of knowing” that it won’t be you who will have to clean everything up. This will not only help out the economy by hiring people, but will help you to be less resentful and stressed out if you know you’ll have some help!
And last but not least… don’t be such a Scroogy Grinchi-meister!
Be one with your mess. Roll around in crumpled up reindeer wrapping paper, eat too many cookies, sing cheesy holiday songs, send out those Holiday cards and make your kids smile or else, and enjoy that one time during the year when everyone is officially allowed to be a little crazy!
If you’d like to reach me, you can’t because I have misplaced our Menorah and our Christmas ornaments and everyone in my family is officially not talking to me.
Hmmmm . . . my plan is working!
Seriously, this is a time for love, bonding, being nice to people you don’t even usually talk to, and getting into that “Holiday Spirit!” Just remember that when you smile and spread cheer, sometimes it comes right backatcha, and in more ways than one.
Ed: Lynn Hasselberger
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