It’s the last day of November and round the world we have officially entered the holiday season. If you’re a US resident you survived the Thanksgiving weekend – congratulations! Your wonderful holiday may have included:
- Breaking bread with people you barely know
- A long road trip with your entire family crammed into a vehicle that felt like a shoebox as the miles added up
- Slogging through airport check-ins to spend time with relatives
- Dodging questions from your bubbe, nana or dear Aunt Betty that range from your marital and childbearing status to your weight and the job they don’t quite get
- Trying to politely decline food you no longer eat without going into a long explanation of your dietary choice and uh desire to live past the age of 40.
Ah , fa la la la la la la la.
On Thanksgiving Day, I ran into my local store to grab some forgotten item. I had just finished a run and the happy hormones were rushing through my system. The store had already abandoned the Thanksgiving decorations and red bows and green lights had taken their place. It’s a one stop store where you can buy your groceries, office supplies, lawn ornaments and power tools all in one place (don’t ask, I still don’t quite get it either). I was immediately hit with the delightful smell of fresh baked goods. Yet, among the twinkling lights and joy to the world, there was one thing missing – happiness.
The workers looked battle worn and fatigued. The shoppers were buying holiday trimmings and gifts but none were smiling. I received mumbled hello’s and barely perceptible nods to my cheery greetings (I was happy, I had a good run and I was going to eat pie!). Wasn’t this a season of grateful reflection and joy?
Finally at the checkout, I found it, a happy couple. They smiled even before I let them cut in front of me. They were in their late 70s and made quite a striking pair. They had bought several cans of some type of fruit, and the wife explained they had gone to three stores to find it. She chatted cheerily while directing her husband. He smiled as he followed his wife’s lead, clearly masterful at a lifetime of “yes dears.” They had gone to three stores and they were neither harried, grumpy or seemingly tired.
This dear couple had clearly lived through many holidays. As life goes, I guarantee that they were not all stress free. Yet, they seemed to have arrived at a place that allowed them to enjoy the simple things like finding a searched for food item three stores later.
Maybe it was my runner’s high or my delight about the pie, but I committed to hold on to my joy in the midst of this frenzied season. It’s so easy to be caught like a deer in Christmas lights at this time of year. Yet, the things that really matter have little to do with blinking lights and bright wrapping paper. I will not blame the retailers for ruining the holidays but will take responsibility for my own actions and attitude. I can choose to honor my own values and reasons for celebration this season or I can choose stress and frustration. I can also choose to spread that joy to everyone around me, and that just happens to fit perfectly into my budget.
This week I’ll be sharing some of my personal stress busting strategies, and I would love to hear from you. How do you manage the demands of this time of year? Any must have rituals that keep you sane?