Saving Your Sanity This Holiday Season

Well, here is it: December 1st– the kick off of the most awesome, amazing, and horrifyingly stressful time of year.

Each year, I try to get ahead of things, I try to have all my proverbial ducks in a line in order to sit back and enjoy the holidays, only to forget 80 things, two gifts, and run out of sugar at 10 p.m. with cookies due in the kids’ classrooms by 8 a.m. It. Never. Fails. But hope springs eternal, as they say. So, this year, I’m pledging to chill out, slow down, prioritize, minimize, and simplify. I’m also encouraging my absolutely wonderful mother to do the same.

You see, I don’t think my mother has had a chance to sit down and enjoy a moment of Christmas since she became a mother (of FIVE, mind you) 54 years ago. You see, we DO CHRISTMAS in our family. It’s a major thing and it’s a major task for my mom to tackle, especially when my parents fly in from Florida on December 19, only to host 35 for Christmas Eve five days later. Instead of reconnecting, hanging out, eating, drinking, and being merry, those days leading up to the holidays are a whirlwind of cussing, presents, bows, ornaments, hams, turkeys, cheeses, crackers, and missing punch bowl cups. By the time my mother gets to sit down and enjoy herself, the company has gone home and there’s nothing left but cookie crumbs and bits of paper on the floor. It’s just unacceptable! Each year, we say we are “going to do it differently” next year in order to bring a little more joy and merriness, a little less mess and stress.

So, this year my mother decided that we are going to simplify the menu; however, being Irish-Italian foodies, this has posed a problem. What do we skip? What do we omit? “How about a lovely roast, with potatoes and haricot de verts? We can have cookies, a cake for Jesus, and call it a night,” I suggest. “Well,” my mother counters, “What about the lasagna? And we definitely need the chicken wings. And everybody loves the potato casserole. And your sister makes the bests salads. And Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Lizzie’s baked beans…”

Suffice it to say, the omitting and simplifying struggle is real. Poor Mom is destined for another holiday of wonderful excess and hideous stress, all in the name of tradition. While change might be hard, this holiday season, commit to focusing on the traditions that you hold nearest and dearest and discarding the rest. Focus on how very blessed you are that everyone is healthy and well enough to celebrate together. Focus on taking a rest and genuinely celebrating the magic of the season with those you love.

Just don’t forget the lasagna… or the potato casserole.

“Through the years
We all will be together
If the Fates allow
Hang a shining star
Upon the highest bough
And have yourself
A merry little Christmas right now.” –Hugh Martin

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About Becky Jha

Born and raised in rural Connecticut , Becky DeMattia-Jha attended Salve Regina University in Newport, RI, and has her M.Ed. She has been teaching high school English for 15 years and currently resides in Massachusetts with her husband, their two children, and their German Shepherd. She spends her precious summer vacations indulging in passions other than literature: serving as a lactation peer coach, practicing herbal medicine, organic gardening, making natural cleansers and cosmetics, and preparing quick and easy organic recipes for her family. She hopes to share her efficient, chemical-free, eco-conscious, frugal, and simplistic homemaking and homesteading tips with you.

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