The holidays are here with all the extra activities and fun and stress. Just to be clear, I love the holidays! I love the decorations and the visiting and the food and the music. But I think the holidays also bring special challenges like the one I call the holiday magnifying glass.
I coined this term because it seems to me that everything is just a little bit bigger during the holidays. Schedules are fuller, bills are bigger, and emotions run higher. Everything is just a little more intense. I find my highs are higher. I can say I’ve experienced true holiday joy (both with and without eggnog). Unfortunately joy is not the only emotion I find heightened during the holiday season. I also tend to experience more fear, more stress, more anxiety and more anger. And I don’t think I’m alone.
Los Angeles is a pressure cooker the whole year through. But it seems this sense of increased holiday intensity is especially apparent here in La La Land. The mean people are meaner. People will risk their lives (and yours) to cut you off on the freeway, to steal the parking spot near the store all to get somewhere fifteen seconds sooner. The nice people are also nicer. I’ve had people make room for me to enter the road from the gas station, store keepers be extra nice, gentlemen holding doors.
It seems like the holidays bring more of just about everything. I think a lot of it has to do with rampant expectations. Johnny has to have exactly the same number of presents as Sue. The house has to look perfect. I have to make my special cranberry chutney and 18 kinds of cookies and roast a whole ox for the next holiday feast. I’ve talked a lot about managing holiday expectations on this blog. I’ve talked about it a lot because I think it’s important, and also because it’s something that I personally find extremely challenging. But sometimes when you’re in the moment under the holiday magnifying glass, when you’re in the middle of opening gifts or hosting the holiday feast and it’s too late to not make the 3 kinds of homemade latkes or simplify your holiday plan you need an emergency technique to get you through.
Here it is. It’s not exactly earth-shaking rocket science, but it seems to work. When everything is magnified, when it all seems way too big, just take three steps back. When you step back and give yourself a little perspective, everything seems a little smaller. Take a few steps away. Go sit in the bathroom and take a few deep breaths. Step back from the holiday table and stop obsessing about the way the napkins are folded. Don’t just look at the car in front of you, take in the entire road. Step back from the temper tantrums happening with the kids and realize that this too will pass (probably in much less time than you think.) When in doubt, literally and figuratively take three steps back and three deep breaths. And give yourself the holiday gift of just a little perspective.
The Fat Chick