“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.” I say blessed are the people who can hold onto the spirit of Christmas past Black Friday!
By Annette McLoughlin
“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.” I say blessed are the people who can hold onto the spirit of Christmas past Black Friday! That conspiracy of love can (and often does) turn into a confluence of road rage and the stress of the over-reached. Ironically, all of the time, energy, and money we pour into our showings of love and thoughtfulness can tap us of common courtesy and even civility, and turn us into the type of people who cut other people off for a parking spot or who sigh audibly at the elderly woman on line in front of us at the post office for taking “too long.”
Another irony of the season is the idea that the more people we accumulate in our lives the more daunting this campaign of love showing can become. Whether we show our love or appreciation in a wrapped gift, a tip or just a card, it can become monumentally important to make sure you leave no one out. And the list can be endless; there are your children/grandchildren, spouses, parents, grandparents, in-laws, and extended family. If you’ve given your kids the heavy pressure to be good for Santa the past couple of months or if you stalk your kids with one of those tattletaling “Elf on a Shelf” dolls, you need to make good on that promise and, of course, do your part to keep the Santa dream alive.
And then there’s your spouse. This is a great opportunity to say, “See how much I love you? How thoughtful I really am even though I don’t always show it throughout the rest of the year?” And it’s important to get this one right if for no other reason than to make sure you don’t get out-gifted. If he gives you that chic Postcard Parka you’ve been coveting only to then unwrap another striped Brooks Brothers tie, there could be some bad blood on the 25th.
You need to reach out to neighbors, and friends, of course; the old friends (because if you’re like me, the holidays are the only thread left to some of those old ties) new friends, your kids’ friends, and your spouse’s friends.
And of course it’s good for business if you remember your clients, potential clients, partners, bosses, and employees.
The people that support you and your children throughout the year need acknowledgement: teachers, coaches, trainers, tutors, specialists, sitters, housekeepers, gardeners, groomers, mail carriers, garbage collectors, the bus driver, to name a few. How would your child feel if they were the only lame one in the class/on the field/getting on the bus empty-handed?
Then there are the charities; this is when they hit you hard (as they should.) Like, The New York Times Neediest Cases. Have you ever noticed how they float those guilt-inducing statements at the bottoms of articles on wars, natural disasters, famines, like “Remember the Neediest!” or “Don’t Forget the Neediest!” Then you have to decide, of all the needy and pitiful cases in the world, which one needs your charity the most.
The “List” can really feel endless, or if you are unorganized and unprepared, hopeless. Which is definitely not a festive feeling.
Like many, my family travels every Christmas. We load our four kids onto a plane, board our dogs, and ship our presents every third week of December to be with family. As if the holidays alone are not stressful enough, we take ours on the road.
And let us not forget the mommy hell that is the holiday card (specifically, the holiday card photo). Smart are the people who get this task done in August.
While we are under the mental pressure of the holidays, we concurrently over-reach physically, too. The onslaught of holiday parties can throw so many appetizers and cocktails in front of you, you feel like you need a personal trainer and a new liver under the tree by the time the 25th rolls around. It’s no small wonder that the most popular New Year’s resolutions are diet and fitness-related, with so many of us stumbling and waddling into the new year.
So this year, I’m getting Christmas back. I’m making lists (and checking them twice) and I’m keeping a budget. I’m buying as early as possible and keeping my receipts organized. I’m buying thoughtfully, rather than impulsively and under duress. I’m even going to break out my box of cookie tins (from my Christmas-loving years of Christmas Past) and give the gift of thoughtful, homemade deliciousness.
I think I’ll start my New Year’s resolutions now. Why wait? Like many, I resolve to take better care of my body next year. By starting in December, I’ll force myself to take that on when I need it most. (Also, I’ll feel like less of a lemming at the gym that first week in January.)
I started drinking healthy smoothies this week for breakfast (all in festive shades of green), and I have an appointment with a nutritionist (Ron at Rye Beach Pharmacy) to help me get my molecular self in order. I’m also determined to make sure I’m not deprived of sleep during the holidays. That’s not to say I’m going to skip out on any reindeer games, I’m just not going to cheat my 40 winks in order to fit in more fa la la. And lastly, I am planning on bringing more Zen into my daily routine in ’14, but again, why wait? I plan to to learn to incorporate a little mindful meditation into each day by starting with the De-stress Workshop at the library on December 7 (at 10 a.m., if you’re interested).
This organized, mindful, and healthy new me will have the time and, most importantly, the Christmas Spirit to give back this holiday in some way, every day. Whether it’s a donation to a “Neediest Case” or a smile at the lady at the Post Office, I hope to spread some cheer and enjoy and perpetuate the conspiracy of love.