How many times have you heard some variation of this? “I feel like the holidays just pass in one big blur. You’re thinking, ‘It can’t already be Thanksgiving’ and the next thing you know it’s January!”
I heard it a few times just this past week, and I admit to having trouble believing Thanksgiving is upon us. Well, that’s human, I guess. However, I do have a problem with the statement that it all “passes in one big blur.” That’s a big “Danger, Will Robinson” moment for me.
First of all, if it passes in one big blur, it’s kind of like eating half of a chocolate cake all at one sitting. You’re not sure what happened, only that you feel a little sick. There was no savoring going on, no relishing each taste as it hits your tongue. It’s all about the volume, baby, before someone (and really, underneath it all, that someone is YOU) realizes what you’re doing.
So yes, first and foremost, the holidays are best when savored with each tiny bite. They are, in the midst of late Fall and early Winter, a feast for the senses with the decorations, the music, the food, the events, and all the special, unexpected moments that wrap themselves around your heart’s best memories. They are best enjoyed in moderation—not with a calendar dripping with SOMETHING TO DO penned into each available white space. (Here’s a tip: if you are looking at the monthly view of your calendar and you can’t see everything you are doing without scrolling down—you have too much going on.)
There’s another reason why “passing in one big blur” is problematic. It is simply too easy to look at the holidays as one big decision—will I work to be healthy or will I just enjoy myself and forget about it?—rather than a series of little decisions you make each day.
Today I will:
- Sleep seven or eight hours
- Meet my exercise goal for the day
- Eat a healthy breakfast and practice portion control
- Avoid eating in-between meals
- Eat a healthy lunch and practice portion control
- Take a bath
- Drink 64 ounces of water
- Organize my Thanksgiving meal preparation
- Write a post to my blog (!)
- Research agents attending the #MidwestWritersAgentFest and sign up
- Make a healthy dinner
- Query five literary agents
- Finish my Power Point presentation for Thursday’s talk
- Have a healthy, portion-controlled, candlelight dinner with Marc
- Flex my meal with one cookie and savor it
- Do two loads of laundry
- Take a walk
- Read in bed
- Avoid electronics before bedtime
That’s twenty decisions that cover the gamut from “fun-to-done,” decisions that create flexibility and space within a framework of accountability to myself. Including Thanksgiving and January 1st, there are thirty-five days this holiday season. If you average twenty decisions a day, that works out to SEVEN HUNDRED LITTLE DECISIONS you make during the holiday season.
Understanding that means that you can’t adopt the “oh well, I blew it” attitude that derails your work to make the holidays not just meaningful but healthy. If I decide that I blew it day three because I decided not to exercise, I have effectively decided not to be accountable to the one hundred fifty-seven remaining decisions left between me and 2020.
Assigning accountability to little decisions also means that you aren’t “bad” if you make a few choices that weren’t the healthiest. Or, say, if you jump on the holiday train at breakneck speed before sanity resumes and you find a way to jump off again. We all, we all have our weaker moments, unless we are simply so rigid we won’t allow that to happen—and I would offer up the gentle suggestion that an excess of rigidity can be a problem in and of itself.
Here’s a way of looking at it: you are not going to be perfect this holiday season. But, you can work to prioritize what is most important to you, to savor what is wonderful and refuse to get stressed out by all the “busy-ness.” You can create your own sacred moments and indulge in their beauty, and you can forgive yourself and move on when you fall down a little bit.
I read a wonderful article this week by Arianna Huffington, about the power of taking micro-steps. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/13/smarter-living/how-to-build-better-habits-work-sleep.html The idea is that you make small healthy decisions for yourself every day that are simply too small to fail.
That’s my challenge to each of us this holiday season: change that “big blur” into a series of seven-hundred small decisions that will allow you to truly relax and enjoy this holiday season without succumbing to the stress of “too-muchness.” You might find that little decisions, little flexes, and savoring those special moments is about as perfect as it gets.