Let it Be

‘Tis the season to be jolly!

Are you ready to bake hundreds of exquisite little cookies, wrap a couple of hundred perfectly chosen presents, host several festive gatherings and go right out of your ever-lovin’ mind while you try to keep up with all the holiday demands? It’s all about expectations – particularly the unreasonable ones we place on ourselves in our frantic quest to create that perfect Hallmark holiday. And it’s all about the stress we feel when things don’t go according to plan.

As we’re merrily trimming the tree, we shriek at the kids: “Clean up your rooms, stop fighting, brush your hair, get dressed – your grandparents will be here any minute and you know how they are!”

Pushing through the crowds at the mall, we growl at the cashier: “Whaddya mean there aren’t any boxes? Why are there never any boxes?”

At work, we snarl, “What? I’m supposed to buy a secret Santa gift for him?! “

And at the grocery store: “Would you move over? I’m just trying to grab a &%$#ing bag of carrots.”
A very Merry Christmas to you too!

This year, don’t let stress be your holiday bff. Instead, give yourself the best gift ever – lowered expectations. Learn to be okay with a tree that doesn’t look like Martha Stewart decorated it. Let the kids put the balls and baubles on it as they see fit. You’ll have a few laughs after they’ve gone to bed but they’ll think it’s perfect. If you don’t like to bake, drop by a church bazaar and load up on all the goodies. Homemade cookies are still homemade…even if they weren’t made in YOUR home. If baking is a must as far as your conscience is concerned, buy ready-made cookie dough at the grocery store and bake that. The kids won’t care. Warm stuff out of the oven is fine…who cares how it got in there? Too tired to clean the house when guests are coming? Turn the lights down and get out the candles. Simmer some water in a pot on the stove, throw in a cinnamon stick and some cloves and your guests will think you’re a holiday genius. Shop for your gifts online and choose sites that offer gift-wrapping. Open the big box that comes to your front door and put the already-wrapped prezzies under the tree. Buy gift cards from restaurants etc. that offer two-fer deals and use the extra card to treat yourself to takeout so you don’t have to cook. Getting the holiday picture?

Easy, easy, easy. Just remember, contrary to what you might think, no one expects perfection – the team from Good Housekeeping magazine won’t be coming by to evaluate your efforts. The less stress you put on yourself, the better the holiday mood you’ll create – which makes for a happier family and a happier you. When the holiday season comes thundering down on us, take George Harrison’s words to heart and just Let it Be.

Is a travel writer with weekly columns in the Toronto Star, various other newspapers and tripatlas.com. She's a thrilled to be a blog contributor, and is inspired by the people she's met through White Oaks.