Sunday, November 27, 2011

Holiday blues

I think I've turned a corner. I almost hesitate to jinx it, but for about 10 years this was a rough time of year for me, and so far...I'm okay.

Everyone has their own “triggers” but some of the ways I’ve learned to defend against the blues, you may find helpful too.

First, eliminate unnecessary stress.

I’ve gone on strike when it comes to cooking Christmas dinner and our few remaining family members go out to a big Christmas brunch at a lovely hotel. It’s a treat and we all enjoy it.

I used to let my husband do all the decorating. I didn’t complain about the lights and garland absolutely everywhere and he didn’t complain that I wasn't helping.

Second, replace the things you miss.
I read a study recently that receiving gifts makes people happy, but giving gifts makes the happiness last longer. No wonder I missed shopping for family members. It was the giving I missed! Even in this economy you can find bargains or make little gifts and give them to people who have been good to you during the year. You can even stop by your local fire house or police station with something—just because they’re there.

Third, be good to yourself. Do things that make you happy.
I bought a timeshare in Florida for the first week of each year. It gives me something to look forward to and makes my workaholic husband take some time off. We always have a wonderful time, if for no other reason than having lots and lots of “vacation sex.” Now there’s a great way to relieve the tension of the holidays when they’re finally over!

Are you struggling to make ends meet and can’t afford to do anything that spendy? Well, I empathize. I used to be a single parent and almost every penny went to pay rent and bills. My daughter and I made a list of all the things we liked to do that cost little or no money. Try it, you might be surprised.

Here are some of the things from our list:
Go to the perfume counter at any department store and try the free samples.
Do each others’ hair and make-up.
If you have a fireplace, enjoy gazing at it or toast marshmallows.
Feed the birds and watch them from your window.
Put flowers on a neighbor’s doorstep, ring the bell and run away.
Sing along to the radio.
Read books from the library. Especially fun if you read to each other.
Watch a comedy on TV.
Bake something.
Go to a music store and listen to new selections with headphones.
Find a store with music boxes and play as many of them as you want to. (It’s good for them to be played. Not good for them to sit unused for long periods of time.)
Make your own bath salts. (Just Epsom salt and a few drops of fragrant oil.)
Use them and take a long, hot bath. (Good for arthritis.)
Write to an old friend.
Make a new friend.

Finally, count your blessings. There’s always something to feel good about. Do you have a place to live? A car? Two feet you can walk on? Two arms you can hug with? A pet? A friend? There are always people who have less than you or have to deal with circumstances you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.

“Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain.”


N.J.Walters said...

Some great suggestions for every day and not just the holidays. :)

Karenna Colcroft said...

Good suggestions. The holidays are a rough time of year for me for a number of reasons. I've never been the one to make dinner, so that wasn't a stressor, but I've always had to do the decorating, and that just wasn't for me. For the past couple years, I've let my younger daughter do it instead. (She's 13 now.) She's definitely got a decorator's touch, and she's amazingly creative and will make her own decorations out of stuff around the house if we don't have something she thinks we should. Seeing how much she enjoys doing it brings back some of the joy for me.

Claudia said...

You've made some fantastic suggestions! Thanks!

Ashlyn Chase said...

I'm glad my suggestions are resonating with folks. Don't hesitate to add one of your own.

Karenna, I think it's great to leave the decorating to those who find joy in it. This year I helped and enjoyed it again too.

Wynter Daniels said...

Good advice. This can be a very tough time of year. I hope you count the naughty chicks as part of your support system;-)

Kaylea Cross said...

We just toasted marshmallows over the fire last week! The kids thought it was awesome.

We love Christmas around here, but it sure is a ton of work (um, we have five trees up, lol). This year I'm cooking dinner for 16 people as well, so that's a bit stressful. I try to be super organized and get all my sides and veggies done in advance, to cut down on the chaos Christmas Day.

For a long time I lost my Christmas joy, but I'm slowly finding it again. Not too many years left where the kids believe in Santa, so I'm determined to milk the most out of this year.

Callie Croix said...

Um, that last comment was supposed to be from my naughty self, not my kick-ass self. Sorry!

pamcl said...

Wonderful Post!

Maria D. said...

Great post Ashlyn! and some really great ideas. You are right, we need to remember not to let stress take all of the joy out of the holidays and remember that it's the Season of Giving and not the Season of Receiving...

Ashlyn Chase said...

Absolutely Wynter! You know I love you all.


Ashlyn Chase said...

Callie--or Kaylea--What a major undertaking! I'll be wishing you smooth sailing and no stress.

Michelle Polaris said...

I love this post. Sometimes we have to make our own magic.

Ashlyn Chase said...

Thanks, Michelle,
Yes, making our own magic is a great way to put it!

Mia Marlowe said...

Your emphasis on giving to others is the real secret, IMHO. Whenever we take our eyes off ourselves, our troubles become harder to see.

Ashlyn Chase said...

Oh, I love that quote, Mia! Is that original or did it come from the little inspirational book you had as a kid? (See, I remember things.) LOL

Casey Crow said...

Beautiful post, Ashlynn. Thanks for reminding us it is indeed the little things that matter.