There is a very good reason why the topic of keeping the holidays (Christmas in my case, but pick your festive poison) simple and sane comes up every year in magazines and news stories and conversations:
Nobody had figured out how to do it, and everybody wants to.
You may say this is an exaggeration and that your holiday season is filled with quiet nights by the tree with loved ones sharing reasons why you're thankful. If that is the case, please bite me. I mean that with love.
It's December 2, and I'm riddled with anxiety. It's the usual list:
Four hundred thousand commitments which make it impossible to do the previous items
I admit that I'm really, really prone to working myself up over stuff that doesn't justify it. I also recognize that the luxury to be anxious over buying people I love presents is a luxury most of the people on this planet don't have.
Those realizations only serve to make me more stressed. Now I've got all this holiday stuff to do and I'm a horrible, self-absorbed person. Fabulous.
I wish I could figure it out. I wish I could convince myself to cut something out, to decide not to put up all the decorations or send the cards, or to just buy Visa gift cards for everyone and be done.
But I can't. And I won't. And so I'm trying to figure out how to get out of a spiral of tinsel-coated stress of my own making.
And, unsurprisingly, I can't figure it out. This is because I have made choices I'm not willing to reevaluate, and those choices mean that I have a lot of shit to do in December.
Sue Bender talks in one of her books about hiring an organizational consultant to help her clean her office. After several hours of justifying why she needed the paperwork the consultant was trying to throw away, she paid her to leave. Bender said that someday maybe she would find someone who understood that the paper was part of the process. I'd like someone find someone who understands that all the stuff on my to-do list is necessary and yet still be able to help me figure out how to do it and not be stressed out. I believe this person will have the ability to Bend Time.
I think that the issue is not How To Have a Stress-Free Holiday. The issue is How To Convince Yourself That You Don't Need To Do The Shit You Think You Need To Do. It isn't quite as catchy on a magazine cover, but everyone who is honest with herself would read the article. The problem is something I create myself, and yet I do it every year.
I have no answers. I have to go address Christmas cards.