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Thursday, December 18, 2008

De-Stress for the Holidays, Part IV

Note: Last year I asked my scrapbooking friends to tell me how they de-stress during the holidays. I received some AMAZING responses. Be sure to stop back at this blog on Dec. 23 for the final installment.--Joanna

Stress? Too much to do? You betcha! When things get crazy during the holiday season I remind myself of a couple of lessons I learned, one from my dad who died almost three years ago and one from my daughter, who was 12 at the time when she educated me.

From my Dad : In his last 5 yrs. of his life, dad was oxygen dependent, either tethered by clear tubing to his noisy machine at home or to a tank on a cart when he was out and about. He no longer drove which was a relief to my brother and I, but he missed his daily drives where he wandered the back roads to see if the deer were still hanging out in the patch of woods, if the builders had made much progress on that new house, how high the river was, etc. In his last years, most of his life was spent in the Lazy Boy recliner by the front window napping, staring at the TV, watching the comings and goings of the neighborhood, or listening to music on the radio. I visited Dad as often as I could, given that we lived 650 miles apart and I work full time, have two teens and a husband. During those visits I came to realize how very important it was to Dad any time someone waved, said "hi", came over with a plate of cookies fresh out of the oven, sent him something in the mail, visited him, etc. It didn't matter if they dropped off a container of chicken noodle soup (which by the way, he hated) or a container of mixed nuts that he loved. He was thrilled that someone thought of him and went to the effort to visit or call or write. It didn't matter if their was a gift involved, Dad just really enjoyed the surprise and the human contact. When I am stressing over figuring out or affording the perfect gift for someone, I flash back to Dad and I remind myself that the perfect gift is often times in me, not in the mall or a mega store.

From my Daughter: A few years ago on a mid December evening, my then 12-year-old daughter Angela was in the car with me as I drove home, my head full of thoughts about what was left to do before the big day. Angela asked me what i was thinking about and I told her that this was the time of year that I go a little nuts, worrying about disappointing her and her older sister. In an incredulous voice, Angela asked me how I could possibly disappoint them. I told her that I am not very organized and I start to worry that one of them will get way more gifts than the other or maybe one will get more fun things or I will have forgotten to get a gift that they really want or any of a number of things. Angela turned to me and said with wisdom that surprised me, "You know Mom, Christmas is about more than just getting presents. It's about having everyone over and playing with our cousins too".

So I can think Angela for reminding me that I am not the center of the universe and that the success or failure of Christmas does not rest on my shoulders. How uplifting to let go of that burden! I can thank both my Dad and Angela for pointing out to me and demonstrating that it is human kindness that counts, not how much money I spend or how many times I do the expected thing. When life gets too busy, I remind myself that it is the human touches, the warmth and the caring that matters, not whether I fashion a bread basket out of bread sticks, glaze it with egg whites and bake it until it is shiny and brown. When I feel overwhelmed and stressed, I figure out how much of the things going on really are important from Dad's and Angela's point of view, and let go of the rest.


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