Gratitude Sunday: Surviving The Holidays

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect toward others.” Dalai Lama

Sunday Haiku
Dry white wind blusters,
turning evergreen branches
into magic fans.

Sunday Musings
Holidays are upon us! How did that happen?!? Like the White Rabbit, I’m pulling out that watch: “I’m late! I’m late!”. This week we will be thankful, and then the press is on for the Big Feast of the season, whichever holiday feast you celebrate.

Holidays are not easy for the most well adjusted couples or families. The simple pressure of getting things done and having them right can make a person tizzy. Dysfunctional families face a double whammy.

I don’t have guidelines to deal with holidays, especially gatherings. I’m not going to tell you how to behave. I don’t have a list of tried and true survival tips. I am a big time fail at holidays, the turkey is never right, something always goes wrong (the list is waaay too long to go into), and I am usually so tense I can barely breathe let alone enjoy myself.

Even though I am likely to be the worst holiday person ever, never fear. Advice from a poor, old, cranky woman might be as entertaining as those lists in glossy high-end fashion magazines made by people with tons of money. I do have some suggestions for getting through these crazy days.

1. Lighten up. If something doesn’t get done, so be it. If it turns out wrong, wrap it anyway. Laugh at it instead of fretting it.
2. Turn off the TV. Step away from the screens. Snuggle or share stories instead. Read to each other.
3. Be in the moment. Enjoy it while it’s happening.
4. Don’t shop. If you have to shop, shop local, used, or hand-made. Local art galleries, holiday bazaars, or winter farmers markets are great places for hand-made choices if you don’t have the time or skills. Re-purpose heirlooms while you are still alive to share the story of the item.
5. Be creative. Tradition is nice, and if you try new things you might find a new tradition.
6. Listen, instead of talking. It’s worth a try.
7. Make time a priority. Plan plenty for travel. Give the gift of time by spending it with elders.

Seven is enough, short, sweet, easy to remember. It’s so easy to over-think the whole mess.

Oh, wait. Second thoughts. I might have a couple more suggestions.

Like skip it. Yes, really. Just skip it. It won’t hurt one year to skip the whole mess. You could visit individuals you want to connect with on a different day and time during the holiday week, especially an older who would enjoy your company. But skip the big get-together with all the fol-de-rol and do something peaceful and quiet instead. Go to the beach. Find a quiet spot and light a candle. Breathe some fresh air somewhere. Hug a tree. Mentally send love and healing energy to those you love and those you don’t without having to be with them.

**Caveat: Do not, repeat, do not treat this like a deprivation and spend the day in bed. No wallowing in depression allowed (that’s too easy, and if you have a mental health challenge, please seek help if you need to). If you are going to do that you might as well drag your body through the shower, dress it, haul it on over to the big get-together, and at least enjoy the eats.**

Then here’s a novel idea: try breaking from tradition. If you always have an event at one person’s house, change the venue. If everybody is busy, order your dinner pre-made or go out to dinner and leave the cooking to somebody else. Have pizza and leave the turkey til next year. If you have the funds rent a Bed and Breakfast or a winter cabin large enough for your group and have everybody meet there or provide a shuttle. The “newness” of the venue or adventure might be enough to circumvent issues that usually present themselves. Or not, but let’s look at the positive possibilities. Maybe try some activity: schedule a hike or a game of softball, and if it’s raining there’s always Scrabble or Monopoly, or have a coloring contest with enough simple silly prizes everybody gets one. Just try something different; it could take your mind off the past and make a fun memory for the future.

The hardest one for me is not dwelling on the “what ifs” and the “what was”. I want to just turn off certain parts of my brain and allow it no memories of holidays past. And I want to turn off the imaginings of what might happen as well. It never happens the way you imagine. The past is past, can’t be changed, done, over, no re-do; I survived, and forward is the only direction from here.

It’s all too easy to talk about what to do and what not to do about holidays. You have to do what you know is right for you to keep yourself safe and as happy as you can be. Not that happiness is required, but it’s a nice bonus.

One more thing. Make the holidays not about you. It’s not a performance; you are not being graded, curve or otherwise. Nobody’s looking at you, they are more likely to be more concerned that you are looking at them. So look at them, and remember what my grandma used to say, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.” She meant “be kind”; it doesn’t hurt to be kind. If you can’t honestly say, “you look great”, since it’s not your place to judge, say “I love you” instead. You might not know the story, and it might not matter. Love matters.

Focus on others, giving them time, sharing stories, encourage littles to perform and applaud when they do. Ask grandma to show you that recipe you’ve always wanted and record it on whatever fancy technology you might have. Breathe in every moment of time spent together through every sense you have.

There we have it. Focus on others. Listen, instead of talking. Be there in the moment. Easy peasey.

Color Watch colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – The brown leaves in the stems of this decorative grass made me think of pulling on khaki shorts and the grass seed heads remind me of blond hairy legs. Red, white, green, and gold: preview of the next season. A bit of gray-white lichen fallen amongst a puddle of softly muted reds. If you squint your eyes just right the shape of this brilliantly colored leaf sort of looks like a turkey.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Finished the last season of DCI Banks (2011-2016, rated TV – 14). Formulaic cop episodes, a bit boring toward the end. * Finished the mini-series Sybil (1976, not rated) with Sally Field and Joanne Woodward, about a woman who develops Dissociative Identity Disorder. The movie is Hollywood, of course, and Sally Field’s performance is the best, but the ending is facile, and does nothing to help viewers understand how difficult mental health issues are. * Acrimony (2018, rated R) about a woman who supports her husband who is trying to sell an innovative product for many years, using up her inheritance, and eventually mortgaging her family home. She finally divorces him, after which his product sells, making him wealthy, but by then he is engaged to another woman. I thought this was going to be a typical woman-scorned-revenge movie, but different perspectives are presented: was he using her or truly loving her? Chaos ensues after his new engagement, as the ex-wife decides she has a right to the income after supporting him through the years of product development despite his generosity. Quirky twists at the end. * Started season 5 of Ray Donovan (2018, rated TV – MA), with Liev Schreiber, about a Los Angeles “fixer”, a man whose job is to “clean up” (read: cover-up) mistakes made by celebrities.

Currently ReadingDietland (2015, fiction) by Sarai Walker. The (mis-?) adventures of a young fat woman. Just starting. * Almost finished with Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead (2018, social justice) by Cecile Richards. She is ending the book with the drama of trump becoming president of the United States and her continuing battle against his ignorant policies.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The immigrants who pick my strawberries in California under the smoke from the fires.
  • How my heart still works aching for all the people in California who lost their lives, homes, and livelihoods in the recent fires.
  • The firefighters who left their homes to help in California.
  • Knowing there is hope for the average republican redneck long-haired hippie to understand history and why we need to take care of the village and planet, because the hubster (who is one) gets it.
  • Being past the painful part of the cold sore and on to the healing part.
  • Finally figuring out which file my phone dumps my photos to when I transfer to my laptop. The techno-ditz takes a while, but I always prevail usually later rather than sooner.
  • Those ten minute work windows; it may take me all day to get something done, but it gets done.
  • My community which hosts a winter farmers market in November and December where I get some beautiful root veggies like potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash and Brussels sprouts. I’m grateful to like these veggies.
  • A box of sweet California strawberries.
  • And because it is a national day of thanks this week: Thank YOU, dear readers, wherever you are, for taking the time to read these humble posts.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

This entry was posted in abundance, Aging, Education, Entertainment, Family, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, History, Nature, Photography, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Gratitude Sunday: Surviving The Holidays

  1. piratesorka says:

    Still being able to claim you as one of my oldest and dearest of friends and we can still see each other now and then is a great blessing to me and I am very Thankful.


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