Thursday, December 18, 2014

Best of AM - When It's Not The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

This has been a strange holiday season. We were late getting cards out, and I've talked to other people who have been late.  We have only gotten a couple - like everyone is waiting to see who has sent them one.

Or, perhaps, everyone is using Facebook and we've reached some kind of "tipping point".

It doesn't seem like people are decorating the way they usually do - or maybe it's just a local aberration.

Today, I am bringing you a post from last year.  I re learned an important lesson right before Christmas last year, and I wanted to share it with my readers again. 

What we call The Holidays are not a happy time for everyone.  We had a death in our family a week before Christmas last year and it was a stressful time for other reasons.  We need to be gentle with each other and with ourselves.

Update:  the relative with cancer had a good outcome - it was caught early and tests show she is now cancer free- something we are all grateful for.

When It's Not the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I was mentally exhausted last night.

A challenging day at work. A conversation with a dental surgeon's office that left me feeling at loose ends, unsure what to do next.  I am trying to juggle a pending dental problem with the fact that I will have caregiving duties for a relative with cancer in the near future, causing me to be away from home for a few days.

After work, spouse takes me to pick up new glasses.  We crawl through holiday traffic.  After glasses, a trip to Sams Club to pick up food for Christmas Eve. Another crawl through holiday traffic. Upon arrival at Sams Club we see a number of registers closed, and long lines have gathered at the other registers.  We pay for the privilege of shopping there - why can't they afford labor to shorten the lines?

Tired, stressed people look at each other as they wait patiently to be checked out. We make our selections and join the line. Finally, after a million years or so, we are free to leave.

Still another crawl through holiday traffic, only to find, when we get home, that we missed a call from the oncologist's office. We needed information, some information had conflicted with other information we had gotten from a different person in the office, and person #2 had asked person #1 to call us.  Now we had missed person #1's call and #1 person was going to be off tomorrow.  Try again Monday....

My new glasses hurt.

It's all part of what we call The Holidays here in the United States. The Holidays are that time between Halloween and New Years Day when we are supposed to be happy but instead, too many times, we are just plain stressed.  I will tell you what I would like to do with the man who sings "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!" (it involves termination with extreme prejudice, in particularly inventive ways.)

But I read a blog post after I got home with various tips on how to reduce stress during the Holidays.  And I thought - I needed to think about what else had happened yesterday.

I thought about the nurse at my family dentist's office and the good news she gave me after I didn't know what to do after talking to the surgeon's office.

I thought about the woman in front of us on that long Sam's Club line and how she insisted we, with our four items, go ahead of her. She must have been just as tired as we were.

I thought about the people at the oncologist's office, who have been patient with us as we try to learn the ropes of dealing with cancer on a closer level than either my spouse or I (neither of us have ever had cancer) have ever experienced.

I thought about the co worker I wouldn't see until after the New Year, and when I wished her a Merry Christmas, she hugged me.

I thought about my spouse cooking dinner for me.

Not that we have a whirl of parties and other events to begin with (that isn't our style) but we are trying to take care of ourselves in small ways.  Perhaps buying pre made and not making ourselves.  Asking a family member to shorten Christmas dinner and make the start time a little earlier.

We will try to care of ourselves, and take it one day at a time.  And those glasses? I've put them aside for now. I will get them adjusted, but all in good time.

Do the Holidays stress you out?


  1. Hey Alana- I'm not hugely fond of this time of year. Call me Scrooge, but I think Christmas is over-hyped and I'm not really feeling it!
    It's a shame that people are really stressed during the holidays!

  2. Alana, yes--yes, they do. I never can keep up, and with a big family that means more gifts to buy and wrap, more messes to clean up, more food to prepare. Still I love it and it's not a bad thing for me to learn new organizational strategies for how to make it through the holiday season without losing my mind, or getting sick. My daughter and I were remembering that last year at this time, we were taking 3 meals a day to my son and daught-in-law and granddaughter, because my dear daught-in-law was too sick (and had been for months) to care for her family. She got better, thank God, and whenever I think I'm stressed by shopping and cleaning and presents and such, I remember that it's all a matter of perspective. I'm blessed, that's all.

  3. Very thoughtful post. I think it's such a meaningful exercise to look for the good in frustrating situations - really helps to keep things in perspective. Thank you for sharing.

  4. It's a very stressful time for all of us, even if we have nothing out of the ordinary going on. Last year my mother was recovering from a mastectomy and waiting to start chemo so it was a tough year. One year we were all reeling from my brother's suicide just weeks before Christmas. We got through it all. And I think your post from last year was right on the nose...we each have to try to de-stress the holidays for ourselves. Skip that party you don't really want to go to. Do the absolute minimum. Skip the cards. Take care of ourselves. People will understand and if they don't, that's okay. You don't need other people's permission.


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