MS and the Holidays
There's nothing like the winter holidays to bring out the fanatics in all of us, whether you've always made thirty dozen cookies, had the biggest holiday party on the block, or vowed to shop until you drop. Even the heartiest among us have their limits — and setting limits is a good way to maneuver through the holiday crunch when stress is at a maximum and energy is scarce.
Living with MS, as you've learned, requires balance, and the holidays can really put your simplification skills to the test. It's good to develop strategies that will allow you to manage the season with a sense of ease and grace.
Checklists are a good way to prioritize your tasks; in fact, they're a great way to get rid of tasks. When you make your lists, go through them again and decide what you can cut out this year. Do you really need to adhere to every single tradition? Can you just buy eggnog this year instead of making it from scratch? Can you pick names with your siblings instead of shopping for everyone? What can you leave off your list that will make life easier?
When you hear “But, Mom, we've always made cookies from scratch,” you might want to see how important that tradition is to the rest of the family by handing them the flour. Because you've decided you can't do it all, it's time to get everyone else in the corner with the scotch tape and scissors. Learning to delegate is a skill used by CEOs and mothers worldwide.
Revamp Your Expectations
Christmas brings out perfectionists like nothing else. People often have a picture in their minds about what their celebrations should be like, often cultivated from childhood memories. Learning to rethink your celebrations is a good idea. Instead of imagining the holidays as a time of busy, chaotic festivity, perhaps it might serve you to see it as a time of solitude and reflection, where you cuddle up with your kids with a cup of cocoa and watch Christmas movies, or you spend time helping those who are less fortunate. Not everyone dashes through the holidays at lightning speed; some prefer to see it as a time to relax and enjoy special time with their family.
Try Some Time Savers
Figure out ways to cut corners rather than doing things the way you've always done them. Here are some tips:
Shop online. Reputable stores and online sites are careful to protect your security, so you can shop online without concern. There's something great about clicking a mouse on a desired gift and having it show up at your door a few days later — wrapped.
Send e-mails instead of holiday cards. There are some great websites that allow you to add pictures and your own sentiments to electronic cards. Try
Have a cookie exchange party where everyone goes home with a selection of treats that others have baked and contributed.
Have your favorite restaurant make your side dishes, your local grocery store cook your turkey, or the bakery make your pies. This might sting a little at first, but you might find it takes a lot of the stress out of the big holiday dinner or other gatherings.
Have everyone contribute a dish for holiday dinners or parties.
Gift certificates make great gifts, especially if you know which stores your recipients enjoy.
Take the word “should” out of Christmas and do only what you enjoy or feel capable of doing.
Keep in mind that the stress of the holidays may cause some people to neglect their usual self-care routine — something you want to avoid. Pare down your obligations if you find yourself falling into that trap.