“Did you have a nice holiday?” “How was your Thanksgiving?” “Did you have a good Christmas?”
Everywhere you go this time of year, someone is either wishing you a happy holiday or asking how your holiday went. We usually answer the latter with an automatic “Very nice!” or “Great!”, but there is a lot of value in spending a few minutes alone with that question and answering it more deeply.
I know you are busy today. Most of us are simultaneously relaunching our regular workaday lives and trying to gear up for the holiday for which Thanksgiving threatens to become a mere prelude. But could you find a way to take 10 minutes to sit quietly with a pencil and paper (and maybe a cuppa) just to think a little? Here are four questions to help you stress less during the next go-round:
- How did you feel during the holiday? Peaceful? Stressed? Happy? Resentful? Joyful? Exhausted? Exhilarated? Frustrated? Relaxed? How about the rest of the people in your orbit?
- What didn’t go so well? Food plans too elaborate? Schedule too packed? Not enough pauses for naps, exercise, prayer? Or, Aunt Winifred fought with Aunt Prunella? Not enough chairs to go around? Forgot to pack extra diapers? Nobody liked the new dessert we tried (and need more pecan pie!)? Long travel day left kids exhausted?
- What worked great? Make-ahead turkey freed oven for other cooking? Ditching the kids-table and mixing ages got all generations interacting? Post-meal walk suggestion proved popular? Everybody raved about your sweet potatoes?
- What can I do to make the next holiday StressLess?
- When it comes to what others control or what affects the group, think in terms of nudging: Give Aunt Winifred plenty of tasks to help her feel needed, and seat her far away from poor Aunt P. Ask if the mealtime might be adjusted from 2 pm to noon or 1 o’clock to allow littles to get a nap afterward.
- When it comes to what you control, you can make bigger changes faster: Sacrifice some of the afternoon fun and games to withdraw to a bedroom with your toddler for a rest. Go outside every couple of hours for a ten-minute breather. Give new recipes a test-run before the big meal. Round up some extra folding chairs. Simplify the menu — make more of fewer items.
- When it comes things that can’t be changed, work on your attitude: Recognize how much you set the tone for the rest of the family, and lead by example. Realize it’s only a meal, it’s only a day, it’s only a weekend, and nobody will die from missing a nap or having to wear a tea towel for a diaper. Count your blessings — everybody has ’em. And, try to forgive Aunt Winifred for being Aunt Winifred.
So, how was your holiday? Share the good, the bad, and the ugly here!