It starts benignly enough with Thanksgiving, everyone’s favorite eating holiday. Lulled into a false sense of calm from polishing off the last of the tryptophan-laced turkey leftovers, we innocently dive headlong into what I believe is the most brutal month of the year: December.
Take your normal schedule, and then kick it up a notch with the urgency of knowing you have to get everything done before the world shuts down during the last week of the month. Add a liberal dash of frantic holiday shopping, a smattering of bad weather and sudden cold snaps, a generous portion of added activities, performances, and parties that demand your assistance, attendance, and attention… and voilà!
You’ve created a gigantic pot of roiling holidaze stew.
We have a few weeks now before family obligations take the whole shebang back up to an even higher boiling point, so in the meantime, your friendly Bitch’in Suburbia has a few strategies to help you put that holidaze stew back on simmer… and maybe even leave it stone cold on the back burner.
1) Two words: Paper Goods: The minute the holiday party sign-up goes up, snag paper goods… and then stock up at Costco or Smart & Final for all your party needs. Please note that you have to be on your toes to nab the easiest thing to bring. I tend to fall asleep at the wheel (sometimes, literally — oh December, you’re exhausting!), and then I’m the Chanukah mommy, up to her elbows in hot oil and labor-intensive latke preparation. Can I get an OY VEY?!
2) Scratch the words, “from scratch”: Even if you are Martha Stewart, your talents are best reserved for your own family… not the sticky-fingered kids or drunk-ass office partiers that don’t give a shit if the cupcake is homemade or courtesy of Sara Lee.
3) Kill your babies: Not literally, of course — even if there’s one too many early release “minimum” school days or snow days this month — seriously, don’t kill those babies. I’m talking about the pet projects that we tend to take on without thinking, and in the thick of it all. Creating elaborate gingerbread houses, following grandma’s 50-step recipe for a holiday treat, buying carefully chosen presents for even the most remote people you deal with… these are all wonderful activities if you have the time and the mind for it. And if you do, please consider setting aside your elaborate projects and instead come to my house to help me dig out from under it all.
4) Ditch the holiday cards: With the rise in abundant ways to create stunning personalized holiday cards, it’s almost anathema to not send 100’s of greetings out, but let’s be honest: I’ve seen you, your family, and your dog/cat/goldfish all year long on social media, and thanks to status updates, I even know what you had for dinner last night. For me, putting together and mailing the cards is a stressful and costly endeavor, so I made an executive decision this year to not send out paper cards — although I might fall for the siren song of JibJab e-cards, just cuz they’re funny and easy enough to get out to the masses.
5) Go to your happy place, NOW! As I pointed out in last week’s blog, misery is NOT your happy place. Your happy place is the sweet spot where you can drain your brain and release all the tension that’s clogging your Chi. For me, that means getting my ass back to yoga class; for you, it might mean jogging, running, hiking, napping, zoning out to bad TV, reading pulpy mags, or whatever else floats your boat. I leave the rest to your fertile imagination, and urge you to do whatever it takes to rejuvenate.
6) Update Your Fuckit List: I’m serious here, and in December, the point of it is what you’re NOT going to do. You don’t have to accept every invitation to be cheerful and bright. It’s not necessary to buy presents for every Tom, Dick, and Harry (especially the dicks — your benevolence should be reserved for those you truly love, like, or otherwise connect with). And if your heart is into doing some gigantic holiday themed endeavor, then just be sure to cross off your list all the the little things that will get in your way of enjoying the big holidaze shebang.
7) Do what Martha tells you to do: No, I’m not talking about the aforementioned Martha Stewart — she’s not really a good thing, especially not at holiday entertaining time AND particularly not for us Type-A bitches and bastards. I’m talking about the other Martha — brilliant pop culture coach and therapist, Martha Beck — Oprah and my pick for best advisor ever. Here’s what she says about the holidaza: “The holidays are about renewal, kindness, and joy. Judgment and oppression are the enemy of these sentiments. Just see how much more genuine holiday spirit you’ll generate when you follow your own bliss, rather than someone else’s holiday traditions.”
So if you see Santa and me kickin’ it, hot toddies in hand and checking the list just once so we have enough time to watch Will Ferrell’s Elf, please know that we’d prefer the days off, not to daze off, during this beautiful time of year. And we both urge you to do the same — after all, the person most likely deserving of your holiday charity and least likely to get it is… yourself.