Self Care Day on the 6th: November 2012

November 6

It’s November 6th! And you know what that means, right?

Well, if you live in the US, it’s Election Day. Which means it’s time to vote if you haven’t already participated in early voting. I’ll spare you the rest of the monologue since — unless you’ve been on a long safari — you’re full up with this election. I certainly am, and I actually love this whole process of researching candidates, making my choices, going to the polls, and voting.

So, let’s assume you’ve voted or have that worked into your schedule for the day (or happen to live in Tanzania and aren’t scheduled to vote until 2015) and move on to the self care portion of the program.

Cool? Great!

Even if you aren’t running for elected office, the beginning of November can be a wee bit anxiety inducing. Lots of folks see this as the start of The Holiday Season. You know, once the Halloween candy has been collected from all of the neighbors and the stores are unabashedly stocking the shelves with every possible flashing red, green, and gold item the marketing folks can dream up, we start to tense up a little (or a lot) knowing that the calendar is officially going off the rails any minute now.

Gifting — listing, financing, buying, wrapping, sending, unwrapping, thanking, storing — is just one of the activities that deserves recognition as a varsity sport.

Then there are the parties and the concerts and the rellies and the Nutcracker and the cooking and baking and cleaning out the guest room for Aunt Molly and the non-stop merry-go-round travel among commitments far and wide and someone forgot the apples for the Waldorf Salad, so the whole thing is ruined.

Well, whoa. Who says?

While I’m as sentimental as just about anyone I know, I finally pushed pause on this whirling dervish of holiday hell and rethought the whole thing several years ago. Just like any other “project” in my life I took a long look at it and asked some of those really powerful questions that Helen Sanderson and her crew taught me to ask. Fair warning: These queries are magical.

What’s working?

What’s not working?

What do we love and want to keep?

What do we dread and want to toss?

Knowing what we know now, what will we do next?

So how do you work this magic? It really is up to you.

Maybe you like sticky notes. I know I do! So, when I did this, I went through each question, putting one item on each sticky note so that I could look at it in isolation and really think about how that aspect of the season impacted my joy — positively and negatively.

You may want to do this exercise alone or you may want to involve some (cooperative) folks from your planning committee — er — family in this conversation. Or you may want to do it by yourself first and then invite comments.

Got your stickies? (Or your notebook or your pictures from last year or a word processor document open or a template from Helen or your steering committee and graphic facilitator?)

Good. Now, go through each question one at a time.

What’s working? Make a list of all (or a sticky for each) of the things, people, foods, traditions, and Traditions that really make this season meaningful for you.

What’s not working? Make a list of all (or a sticky for each) of the things, people, foods, traditions, and Traditions that really make this season dreadful for you.

Then refine them with the next couple of questions. What do we love and want to keep? What do we dread and want to toss? What might we combine or change or rethink or move around?

Be fearless! Really think about what it is you want out of your — YOUR — holidays.

One of the things I changed was gift giving. There came a point when it just wasn’t fun anymore. I was spending weeks hunting down and buying stuff off of lists that my family exchanged in September and shipping it all over the country or schlepping it there along with the apples for the Waldorf Salad, only to have all of that stuff get lost in the piles of wrapping paper and gift overwhelm.

Now, we tend to give everyone (except the wee kids) on our holiday gift list exactly the same thing. It’s different each year, but it’s the same gift for everyone — teachers, Mom & Dad, cousins, friends, siblings, co-workers. One year, we made popcorn kits that included paper bags, kernels, seasonings, recipes, a movie and a lovely glass bowl. Another year everyone got a hand-made scarf. In slim years, we’ve given out ornaments or baked goods. We save the specially-picked-out-just-for-you gifts for birthdays or sussies*.

I’ll admit that this practice may horrify you — and I’m cool with that — but it makes me a very happy camper during the season of lights.

I have friends who have stopped visiting far-flung relatives and stay at home, volunteer at a shelter, cover the office for their co-workers, and save their travel for when the traffic is a lighter. Some folks give a donation to a charity they love and forgo the gift exchange. One large family goes to a state park and rent cabins so that no one has to clean their house and host 30 cousins for a week.  Still another has their big gather-the-clan celebration at Thanksgiving and does their Christmas and Hanukkah celebrations with their immediate families in their own homes.

No offense intended to the memory of Oscar Tschirky — aka “Oscar of the Waldorf” — but I am pretty sure we could even find a way to be joyful without a bowl of chopped apples, celery, and walnuts doused in mayonnaise.

So, what will you do to take care of your self during the holidays? What are you keeping? What are you tossing? What are you reinventing? I’d love to hear all about your favorite traditions and Traditions — old and new!

 

*a word my dear friend, Tracey, taught me for gifts sent just because

Brown Paper Packages Tied up with Strings

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About Gina Lynette

I have been called a, "PollyAnna, sugar-coated idealist." I like to think of myself as more optimistic than that.

Comments

  1. Kathy Campbell says:

    What a great idea!! My plate is fuller this year than it has ever been, and I think I’ll get with my daughter-in-law (aka My Sweet Girl) and see what we can do about our list. She started work this year, so her time will be more precious too. We’ll let you know how we do.

    • I love that, Kathy, and I’d love to hear what y’all come up with. I also love that you call your daughter-in-law “My Sweet girl” and that you’re including her in the conversation. Working together as you take good care of yourselves should help make for a lovely holiday season, no?

  2. I personally SO APPRECIATE the lessening of the holiday intensity, and the NOT traveling at the height of hysteria, and the whole “one gift for all” approach. Thanks so much implementing those, hon! And, I think your suggestions for “editing” the holidays, item by item, tradition by Tradition, is sensational!

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