‘Tis the season to slow down

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hot cocoa

For most of us, the busy season is about to commence. This is not to say that any season is really slow for most of us but there is something about the winter holidays that leave too many of us simply exhausted.

Whether you go over the top with holidays or prefer a quieter and more peaceful season it is time to learn to manage your boundaries and expectations.

In short: in this season give yourself the gift of doing less and saying “no.”

I strongly suggest you adopt a new mantra to best enjoy the holiday season and ring in the coming new year: pace yourself.

Chaos and celebration has a place — in moderation. I enjoy a party as much as the next person. Perhaps slightly less since I don’t love crowds. Granted, crowds at the holidays tend to be family and friends and those I can handle.

No. Just say “no, thank you.” I am fond of saying “No is a complete sentence.” What this means is you can say no to a request without explaining yourself. In fact, it is almost imperative that you do not explain yourself. The moment you explain your “reasons” for saying no, you open the door for debate.

“No I’m just too busy” may lead to “Oh we will help and it doesn’t take THAT much time!” “No, I can’t that day” leads to “Oh we can reschedule for you!”

I prefer the tried and true “Thanks so much for thinking of me, but I’m going to pass.” Full stop. No explanation is required. Don’t join endless cookie exchanges if you don’t want to. Don’t feel obligated to attend every party you are invited to. Don’t feel like you have to catch up with all your friends between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. There are 10 other months of the year, and it is perfectly acceptable to visit people during those times too.

Plan

What this means is plan and be intentional with your time. Every weekend, if all goes well, Mr. Wonderful and I sit down together and loosely plan our week. Time together, time apart, and this time of year, time to socialize, work on projects, time to sit on the sofa with the dogs and watch trashy but highly entertaining television together. The latter is true and very important to me.

Heading into the season of doing and giving, I find it helpful to look further ahead. Decide what holiday fun and frivolity is important to us and plan accordingly. This also means cutting some things if necessary. That is when the “no, thank you” I mentioned above comes in very handy. I make a list of what is important to us to really capture the feeling and meaning of the season for us and make sure those are planned in advance. I also plan downtime, including Christmas movies and cocoa, do-nothing-days and plenty of time to just relax and gaze at the holiday lights — or oven timer.

Less

Look, I love “stuff” as much as the next person and actually own an overly large home (which I also love) to store it all. Nonetheless, this is the season — both figuratively and literally in our lives — that I am wanting less.

We have what we need and most of what we want. Gifts just for the sake of having something to open can be more distressing than blessing.

In this season I have downsized my gift lists and wish lists. This means I don’t shop for everyone I know. This may sound Scrooge-like but I think gift-giving can get completely out of hand. I can love and adore you and you can mean the world to me and I’m still not feeling obligated to give or get a scented candle, coffee mug or socks to celebrate our friendship. If I gave birth to you, I’m getting you a gift; all others may get warm thoughts and love.

I am also a big believer in giving gently used and vintage gifts. So many wonderful one-of-a-kind items are sitting on thrift shelves right now. Let’s normalize the idea that the “perfect gift” doesn’t have to ship from overseas and come with a return receipt.

Remember, if you celebrate Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and/or Kwanza, etc. you may already have made your lists and checked them twice — then thrice, and yet again. The media has been hammering home for WEEKS now that we best get shopping as soon as possible lest Christmas be delayed on cargo ships somewhere.

Important

The holiday season is not contained in cargo ships, Amazon boxes or even a package from the local store. The holidays we celebrate at this time of year are contained in the heart, in the home, and in learning to pace yourself.

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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