Surviving the Holiday Season

Lately I have been very up and down. Sometimes, I am happy my holiday season is a little slower and I have more time. Other times I am just sad that it is so different. But instead of staying down, I have focused on small things to help bring me up and so far, it seems to be working.

Here are a few ideas to help you with this holiday season:

Be kind. Being kind has an impact not only on the people we are kind to but also on ourselves. This can be anything – donating to your favorite charity, including people less thought of, maybe giving your child’s teacher a gift (school nurse, custodians, lunch people, etc.), or paying for someone’s coffee in line behind you. It can also be things that do not cost anything- sending a postcard to a random address wishing them well (I have not yet done this but plan to), leaving small tokens on your neighbor’s steps or mailboxes (individually wrapped candies or notes), or telling someone you appreciate them. There is no act too big or too small. Today, pick something and go for it!

Read your favorite kid’s book to your child. Before I became a school administrator, I taught English to kids with disabilities so I have no shortage of favorite kid’s books. But at the top of my list is the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio (an amazing book about a child with a facial abnormality and what happens in 5th grade, his first year of school ever. So good.)

In an effort to slow down and enjoy time with my daughter – which, let’s be honest, has become very hard with her. She has literally been in school for 2 days in 6 weeks and my life has become work, school, cooking, cleaning, getting ready for bed, repeat. However, I have made a point to slow down and pay attention. I’m trying not to just read her nightly book as fast as I can so I can get a couple of minutes to myself before I pass out. I try to really enjoy the time. I am doing this by reading her the book Wonder. Last night we read for 45 minutes and I enjoyed every minute – not like usual where I cannot wait for storytime to be over.

Whatever book you truly enjoy – even if your child is too young for chapter books – read that tonight. Read it mindfully and slowly and treasure the moment. The dishes will wait until after you take this moment to enjoy your child.

Take a few minutes and do something you love. This can be anything and does not have to be a long period of time. One of my favorite things to do when I need a minute is to put on one of my favorite songs and listen to it completely. It takes anywhere from three to five minutes to do this and the end result is a calmer me. Pick one thing you love to do and do it today. If you can block off a chunk of your time, go for it! If you do not have much time, find a way to give yourself a couple of moments to breathe.

Shop local. Something I have been focusing on more this year and paying attention to is where I buy things. Instead of just buying something from the quickest, easiest place, I take a little more time and try to buy it from a local business. You do not have to leave your house to do this. Many places have online shops and will ship right to your house. Today, be mindful and purposeful about where you spend your hard-earned money.

Create a new tradition. If there was ever a year to start something new, 2020 is it! Our Thanksgiving looked quite different this year and as such, we made it different. I do not have a ton of Thanksgiving traditions – I only like a traditional turkey dinner every couple of years or so. One year we had a “misfit” Thanksgiving with random people on both sides of our family and watched football and ate pizza (that might be one of my favorites ever).

This year, we decided to watch every Friends Thanksgiving episode. We enjoyed it so much we will be doing the same thing for Christmas. Just finding something simple and new to do can really help with missing things we can’t do right now.

Something I also really miss this year is Merry Madness in Portland where you get wine and shop downtown in the late hours. My sister and I have been doing this for years and I always look forward to it. Since we cannot this year, I decided to create something new. I ordered the coupon books for us and had a friend make us Merry Madness wine glasses (complete with an image of a mask). I am going to give these to her, with some wine, and we are going to head to Portland and shop. It won’t be the same, but it will get us out a bit in a safe way while supporting small businesses.

Try to have fun with creating something new that will bring a smile to your face even though the holidays are different.

It can take a lot of work to pull ourselves up from the sadness this year has brought and will continue to bring. But if you find something that works for you, that truly makes you happy and brings a smile to your face, do it more and do it often. Create resilience for yourself and your children and try to be in the moment as much as possible, even if that moment is sad. Giving yourself time to be sad allows for space to later be happy.

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