15 days until Christmas, and Hanukkah is almost over! Can you feel the stress revving up? Places to go, parties to attend, shopping to do, all while keeping up with the already packed schedule, whew! I’m determined to enjoy the holidays, and stress is a real joy killer. For me the key question is to ask myself, “What’s the point?” It helps keep my perspective clear and the end goal in focus. There are so many expectations around this time of the year, it’s also important for me to remember that good? Is good enough.
This year was the first year our Christmas picture wasn’t a hassle. Getting three kids to sit still, look at the camera, and smile– it’s a little like giving ferrets crack, and then teaching them how to eat with a fork. It usually ends up with about 18,000 unusable photos and me yelling SMILE G*D DAMMIT! Yeah, Merry Christmas to you, too. But this year was different. The point of the Christmas picture is to have a good memory, and to get the darn thing done. So we dressed the kids up, went to the mall where they give carriage rides, I yelled smile (in a nice way) and snapped a few pics. No, they’re not great photos, but the goal was accomplished.
Last week I poured over recipes, trying to decide what kind of goodies I would send out with our Christmas picture. I decided I would make four different kinds of cookies. But then I thought about how much time it would take to make four different kinds of cookies, when I already have to make cookies for two school parties, etcetera, ad nauseum– not to mention how quickly those expensive ingredients add up to real money. I quickly down shifted into making popcorn for everyone. It’s easy, it’s lighter than most homemade sweets, and the point is to send people something homemade, not to get all Martha Stewart.
The same with finding the perfect holiday outfit for my husband’s company Christmas party. I hate to shop, I especially hate to shop for clothes. The internet does make it a bit easier, but I’m not going to spend two hours combing Zappos for the perfect pair of holiday shoes, when I have a perfectly good pair in my closet. For other women, putting together is an outfit an art form, I don’t begrudge them that, I’ll be the first one to tell them that their shoes are fabulous. But for me the point of a company Christmas party is to get to know people, and have a kid free evening.
The same is true for work. In graphic design, as in writing, photography and a lot of other creative free-lance jobs, the tweaking can go on FOREVER. Tweaking no one on God’s green earth will notice, except me. Little details, and changes will eat up a whole evening if I let it. I want to do good work, but the point of freelancing is to give me flexibility to spend time at home with my family, not redo a brochure for the umpteenth time, while they’re outside having a snowball fight.
What strategies are you using to make the holidays less stressful?
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