Hold on Santa, not so fast big boy! As much as I love Christmas, Thanksgiving is my all-time favorite holiday. I am not sure if it’s because it officially kicks off the Holiday season, or it is the smell of Sweet Potato pie cooking in the oven that does it for me. I know many friends are already shopping and planning their Christmas. It seems they are chomping at the bit to start decorating. However, for me, one of the things I love about Thanksgiving is to take in the warm sensation that nutmeg and cinnamon creates as it flows from the kitchen and crosses beneath my nose. The aroma has a way of making me live in the moment, not thinking about everything that went wrong yesterday or what I have to do tomorrow— all that matters is what’s happening right now.
From the moment we pass Halloween, until we arrive at New Years, everything seems like it is on the fast track. It’s as if, overnight, our lives become filled with parties, out of town guests, frenzied shopping, and office potlucks.
Now, for the most part, all of these things should be fun for us. However, what can happen, if you’re not taking care of yourself, is that you over-do it and wear yourself out. Unexpectedly, life can get a little out of control and you discover there are not enough hours in the day or money in your budget to get it all done. A simple potluck becomes one more thing that you have to do. You end up looking for the simplest, least time consuming and cheapest thing you can make or buy. Out of town guests, become work, instead of an enjoyment. You could find yourself counting the number of days they will stay before they ever even arrive!
The list of ‘I-need-to-do’ grows to a point, that we start to only look at the things on the ‘Must-do’ list. I remember one year being completely stressed out on how I was going to pay for Thanksgiving dinner; a dinner that I invited a whole host of people to attend. My solution was to rob from the December budget, and then figure out later how I’d make December work when the time came! This is not what the Holiday season should be like, yet we so often fall into this trap.
Are we really enjoying the Holiday season as much as we could? What would happen if we just slowed down, and paid attention to what we and others are putting on our plates? Let’s be real, most of us are already doing too much long before the Holiday Season even arrives. We go into the Holiday season with good intentions, and by the time New Year’s rolls around, we’re just trying to survive. We stress ourselves out trying to do too much, too fast, all in the name of celebrating the Season.
Is the Holiday season so important that your willing to die for it?
Stress is one of the leading contributors to sudden death. It is a weapon of mass destruction to our own bodies. It will wreck your cardiovascular system, cause headaches, ulcers, muscle aches, and diminish your sexual desire. If it feels like stress, it just might be killing you.
Maybe there is a new way we can approach this coming Holiday season. Try building in to your schedule what I like to call Me-Time. Usually, it’s the Me-Time that is the first thing on the chopping block when the ship starts sinking. However, what if it’s just a five to ten- minute walk at some point in your day. While at work, replace the trip to the coffee station with a walk around the parking lot. Let the fresh air rejuvenate you instead of that afternoon cup of coffee. Try meditating….there are some great phone apps that you can use that take less than ten minutes to do. I personally love using Youtube meditating videos on my phone for my morning meditation. Sometimes, while I am waiting in the car for my mother while she is visiting her doctor, I squeeze in a short session right there in the parking lot! I know another method many people use to relieve stress is to keep a Gratitude journal. Try journaling every day just for the holiday season, from November 1 to December 31. Each day take the time to write down one thing that you are grateful for. You can keep your entry private, share it with a friend or loved one or you can post it on Facebook. However you decide to do it, make sure you do it every day and notice how your perspective changes. Your mental health is important , so make it a commitment to take that ten minutes for yourself every day. Be careful not to give your time away, as time may be more valuable than you realize.
So, what’s on the menu in the Clark’s house this Thanksgiving? Around our table will be turkey, glazed pineapple ham, yams, collard greens, black-eye peas and rice, gravy, fresh cranberries, rolls and of course, lots of love and laughter…. a family gathered, sharing our love with one another and creating memories that will last for years.
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