the 3 F’s of surviving the holidays: family, food, & frenzy

I don’t care if you’re jolly Old Saint Nick or Clark Griswold, just about everyone experiences a little stress over the holidays and the chaos seems to revolve around three things: family, food, and frenzy! It’s pretty clear what the first two F’s are, but what about that third one? And, what’s a merry little elf, or Scrooge to do in order to survive this seasonal anarchy?  

Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays, but does it really need to be so stressful? I think not. Holidays should be more enjoyable, not dreadful.

Oh No, Is That A Store Bought Cake?
Recently one side of my family got together a little early to celebrate and we all were assigned to bring two dishes to share. Now to some this may not seem like a lot, but when you have a family, work, home and a million other things to take care of, two extra dishes could be the tipping point of your mental breakdown.

So this time around I thought, you know what? Fugetabout it. I’m not going to stress myself out over two dishes of food.

I proceeded to the grocery store for my usual weekly shopping trip and picked up a delicious salted-caramel apple upside down pre-made cake and a pre-packaged pumpkin seed and cranberry salad mix. When I got home, I took out one of my own cake pans, removed the packaging from my pre-made cake, and placed it inside the pan. I then pulled out one of my salad bowls, opened the salad bag and tossed it in the bowl.

Wa-la! Two dishes for the family gathering done. Check!

Ok, you guys laugh, but when it comes to food my family gets serious (the competition is real!). I couldn’t allow them to think that I bought my dishes. So, yeh, I did a thing and guess what? It didn’t bother or hurt a soul.

At the end of the meal, both the cake and the salad dishes were empty AND the most important part was… I didn’t stress over it! I actually probably added a few days to my life because of it! Ha!

The Real Life Griswolds
Now, when you talk about tolerating family at the holidays that’s another story.

It took me a while, but this year I think I finally figured out how to survive those cringe-worthy relatives. I thought I’m going to play it cool this year and I’ll have a few solutions in my bag of tricks in case of an emergency.

Once we arrive at the gathering, I’m going to chill in mostly one spot and forget about stressing over who I did or didn’t talk too. I’m not going to feel guilty for not asking aunt Martha how her hip is when in reality she doesn’t even know who I am. She probably thinks I’m her waitress from the diner she visits daily.

I’m not going to pretend to intently listen to my rude uncle Joe. In fact, I’ll kindly step away from his rude jokes about my lifestyle. After all, I don’t deserve to hear that stuff and maybe that’s just the signal my uncle needs to clean his cruddy dentures and shut it.

Oh, and my little niece Suzy (a.k.a. demon child) this year instead of letting her yell at the top of her lungs and case the joint by digging into everyone’s purse, I’m going to tell her the story of Pennywise and that if she opens her mouth or reaches her grubby little hands into even just one purse, the clown will visit her tonight while she’s sleeping. At that point, I’ll pull out a red clown nose from my pocket – should do the trick!

I know it sounds cruel, but trust me. This kid is devil-spawn, and she needs a little tough love 🙂

Holiday Happiness Starts With Amazon
Ok, the last “F,” frenzy. You may be wondering what I mean. Well, frenzy could describe a few things, but to me it means:

  • The frenzy of shopping and gift buying
  • The frenzy of coordinating everyone’s schedules around holiday parties
  • The frenzy of making sure you’re at all your kids holiday performances
  • The frenzy of everyone at work trying to tie up all the loose ends before vacation
  • And, so on…

Yes, all the running around, back and forth, and up and down – leaving out stale cookies for the big guy the night before, wrapping gifts until 2am, waking up at 5am (on your day off), and having to clean a mountain of wrapping paper, cooking food over a hot stove for hours that’s devoured in 15 minutes and everyone’s favorite… putting together that bike or dollhouse that comes with a 50-page instruction book!

I know. I sound a little Scrooge-ish. I really do love this time of year! I just think that a few little changes could make a BIG impact and help us to learn and focus on what’s really important about this holiday – our loved ones and spending time together. Cherishing those moments that will seem so long ago only a few years from now.

Which is why this year, I opted to let Amazon handle my packaging, print my cards, and put together those “easy to assemble” gifts.

No wrapping paper this year! Fabric bags will cover gifts for the eco-conscience chic in me. And, no rushing from house to house. I’m going to enjoy my family and our time together for most of the day – no plans until later in the evening.

I also pre-made part of the holiday meal and will just need to do a little thawing before my guests arrive.

One exception – I will be waking up early. I just can’t make my kids go back to bed at their ages (shh… don’t tell them, but I don’t mind!).

Tell Me
What will you do this holiday to survive? How will you make time to take care of your self first, destress, and enjoy the festivities? I want to know!

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