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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Building a Better Christmas - Dealing With Post Holiday Blues

Dealing with Post Holiday Blues

Carin, Mary, and I were back at our usual table at the coffee shop. We watched  the school buses roll by as we sipped our coffee. Carin sighed. "There is something  melancholy about Summer ending."  
"There would be if the temperature wasn't 87 degrees by noon," I replied sourly.
Carin laid a hand on the Christmas planner on the table in front of her. "Does Christmas ever leave you feeling flat?  I mean the weeks, months of preparation. And then after all that work poof! It's over in a blur of torn paper and the scramble to get places on time, and get dinner on the table.  I always feel sort of let down... Like, that's it? All that work and that's it?"

Mary and I nodded. 
"I love the preparation but lately there seemed to be less enjoyment of the actual day," Mary admitted. "Sometimes I feel disconnected from the good time." 
"You want more bang for your buck," I said.
"Exactly," Mary said. "Only the more I do, the less it seems to work. The build up is fun, like planning a production. But then it's Opening Night, and there I am, the producer, watching from the wings. Hoping the audience likes it. And the next day I feel a major sense of let down."

I quietly pulled a sheet of paper from my bag. "I wrote this list several years ago, during a time when I experienced many major life changing events in a short period of time." I laid the sheet of paper on the table. Carin read aloud.
"Christmas Is...
About people not presents  - I have a budget and I'm sticking to it."
I explained, "For a few years money was very,very tight. I stopped giving gifts except to my daughters, and one to my mom. At Christmas the girls and I agreed on a small budget. We drew an name from a hat and we were to fill a stocking for that person. Now, with just the three of us it might sound silly to be a Secret Santa but we did and it added to the fun. We were together, and thankful. As my income increased I was able to indulge the girls a bit at Christmas and I love that! It gives me great joy. But life has changed again."
"That's right, you're a newlywed," Mary smiled.
"Yes.An old newlywed. Married to someone with a small family and minimal Christmas expectations." I took a big sip of coffee."Someone who wants a more circumspect Christmas budget."
"Ouch,"Carin said.
"Ouch," Mary said.

 "Ouch. Is it disappointing that I won't be putting tickets to Broadway shows, new laptops and luggage sets under the tree for my girls? Yes. But my husbands proposed budget isn't unreasonable. I'm reminding myself that Christmas is about people, not presents."  Suddenly I choked up. "And you know, I'm thinking some of that spending was masking  some feelings of guilt, and loss. Guilt because my girls had to go through some tough times, and loss because I miss their childhood days, when I was the center of their universe." 
Mary squeezed my hand."And now with out the shopping and spending to distract you are feeling those emotions."

I nodded. "I am reminding myself that setting a reasonable Christmas budget doesn't mean I can't buy something for my kids at other times. I don't need a holiday to do that. And another thing, a reasonable Christmas budget money allows us to set some money aside for a vacation and to bump up our retirement fund."

Carin looked back at the paper,"Don't Confuse the Selling Season with the Christmas Season."

"Stores and advertisers have a selling season. It ends Christmas Eve. Don't let the selling season dictate Christmas. And I stopped rushing back out to the stores the day after Christmas.Christmas has to be about more than catching a great sale. I may still choose to do some bargain shopping, but shopping is no longer the focus of my Christmas season.
   Something that has helped me tone down my shopping frenzy is focusing on a more religious Advent. I light the Advent candle. I read my devotions. 
And just because the stores and advertisers aren't pushing Christmas it doesn't mean it's over. It's actually just arrived! I  think of Christmas Eve and Day are sort of the jewels in the crown. From Boxing Day to Epiphany,the 12 days of Christmas, I listen to Christmas music and watch favorite Christmas movies. I take advantage of quiet time to enjoy my home. I read a holiday book.  I plan visitors for during that period. I take the time to enjoy the holiday season before I get caught up in what comes next."
"Life Goes on-  Christmas  is a Lay Over , Not a Final Destination"

"Think beyond Christmas. Have something beyond Christmas to look forward to. I tweak my to-do list, plan a Super Bowl party, and  treat myself to some pretty organizational products for my own personal holiday, Make My Closet Beautiful Day."
"Make My Closet Beautiful Day?" Carin asked. She sounded doubtful. 
"On a day I'm feeling down and out of sorts, I clean out my closet and drawers, treat myself  to some nice hangers,  a pretty bin or some drawer dividers. Usually the day after New Year's some times the day after the Super Bowl.  I find that by focusing on a specific task, and accomplishing something  replace some of my sadness with a feeling of accomplishment. I drink lots of lemon water, have some fresh fruit to nibble on, put on some music and dig in."
"I like it," Mary said. "Make My Closet Beautiful Day." 
"Don't Get To Far Off Track"

"From Late November through January I tend to let myself slide. I forgo the gym, walks, sleep, water intake.  I drink too much booze, eat too many sweets and rich foods. I always regret it. I can't let myself get to far off track physically or emotionally.  If the blues last more than two weeks, it's time to see the doctor and get help getting back on tract."
"By Lifting Up Others We Lift Ourselves Up"

"There is so much genuine need in the world. Focusing on meeting the needs of others puts my wants in perspective. The past few years I've been involved in a few helping projects. One is making quilting with a church group. Mission Quilts .The quilts go to those in need around the world.  When I feel myself getting into a funk, I turn my thoughts to helping others. I can sit and brood, or I can cut fabric squares which will be turned into a quilt that will keep a child warm."
"Practice Positive Thoughts"

"Very Simply, when I find myself dwelling on negative thoughts I purposely redirect my thoughts to something positive. Negative thoughts are a habit which can be changed.It takes some time and discipline but it can be done."  
 "Christmas the Holiday vs Christmas the Hobby"
"This year I am building a better Christmas by separating Christmas the holiday  from Christmas the hobby. Christmas the holiday is about me and my family. It is how we worship, and celebrate. It is about people, and those things which fill our hearts with warmth. Christmas the hobby can be a thousand pins on Pinterest, boxes of collectibles, a hundred cookie recipes. By separating them I am allowing myself to have a simpler holiday, while still giving myself permission to enjoy as much Christmas as I want with no seasonal restriction. I don't have to cram everything into a few weeks time."

Mary said,"You are so right about thinking of Christmas as a season and not a race to Christmas Day like it's the finish line. I am going print out January and February calendar months and start filling those in. You know, when I was a child my family went to my grandparents for Epiphany -Three Kings Day. My grandmother always made a special cake. We only had it that one time per year. It was a lovely day. I think I'm going to revive the tradition."

Carin grinned. "My husband has been wanting to host a Superbowl party for years. What if I gave him a Superbowl Party for Christmas?"
"How would you do that," Mary asked.
"Let's see," she said. "What if I got a big box and filled it with football themed party goods?Paper plates, decorations, you know, and a gift certificate for the local deli to cater the party, a coupon entitling him to have me make a beer run. Does that sound silly?"
"I think it sounds awesome." I admitted. "Wish I'd thought of it." 
"I'm feeling very good," Mary said. "I feel happy to be thinking about doing something that has meaning to me after Christmas Day. I made a note about Clean My Closet Day,   I like that idea too. And I'm writing some affirmations on my calendar to remind me to think positive."

 "I feel great," Carin exclaimed. "Not only do I have a post-Christmas project planned, I have an idea for my husbands Christmas gift that I'm actually excited about. I think the kids will like it too."
"I'm feeling better about the Christmas budget. I'm seeing it in a more positive light." I admitted. "and talking it out with you guys has  reminded me of another important way to deal with the post holiday blues."
 "Stay in touch with people."

"These building a better Christmas talks we've been having  have been a real help to me." Mary admitted. Carin and I nodded in agreement. 
"So far we have discussed  make ahead meals,  shopping and organizing , dealing with difficult family members and now dealing with the post holiday blues.What's next?"
We looked at one another. 
"What about something practical." I said. "What if we do a little show and tell? We each bring a couple  gift giving,  time saving, or organizational tips to share with each other?"
"I like that," Mary said. Carin agreed.  
"Good." I smiled and reached into my bag for my tablet."Before we go I have one I'd like to share with you now."
At your house does everyone get new Jammies on Christmas Eve?
 Susan at OhMy! Creative has kicked the tradition up a notch
Check it out.
Start a new family tradition on Christmas Eve with this Night Before Christmas Box with Free Printable Label Fun for the whole family  |  OHMY-CREATIVE.COM

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