’tis the season for…less and less stress

Yes, it’s that time of year again when humankind goes berserk.  It’s the season of gift giving and life stressing.  What used to be simple days of praise has now become the merchandise mecca of the year.  It’s all about the gifts and the gift giving and the gift receiving.  Or is it?  Besides the present factor, there is the presentation factor.  Oh yes, the hosting of the feasts or the attending of the feasts.  Are you one of those who finds this time of year especially stressful?  Even better, don’t you enjoy all the tv shows and the radio talk shows and expert magazine articles telling you how to survive the holiday season?  Yeah, I can’t stand them either.  So I have decided that I am going to share with you MY way of surviving this wonderful time of the year.

PLAN A:

LEAVE TOWN!  If you can, go and hop on a plane, a train, or leave in an automobile.   GO! GO FAR FAR FAR AWAY!  Why?  You don’t have to deal with any of the visiting drama or the hosting drama.  There is NO drama, except for crowds at the airport, but who cares?  You aren’t related to anyone.  Oh…leaving is not an option?  Ok, plan B

YOU ARE THE HOST

KEEP IT SIMPLE:  

The invite:  If you are the chosen one hosting the get together, send out your invitation in July.  That way everyone has time to book their trip abroad!  Or, sadly,  they can decide to spend time with you.  I feel bad for them.  Well, if you are the hostess with the mostest (like me!), here is your holiday survival plan.

Menu plan:  it’s all about the list … ahem … lists.  Your menu is one list.  This will include the items you are planning on making.  Sub-divide your list into the following categories:  Appetizers / Main / Dessert.  Further sub-divide that list into when to prep each item and what you have to buy at the grocery store.  Example:  vegetable tray: grape tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, carrots, cauliflower.  This list will become your cheat sheet for the next list – GROCERY LIST.  Oh, then there is the list of what platters / bowls utensils will be needed for each dish.  See!  Super easy!  Oh, as the days progress you might find that you cross things off your list because they are either going to take too long or you’re too tired to attempt making them.  Your 5 page list will suddenly wither away to one sheet.  There…NOW it’s easy and manageable.  So, if you started off with apple pie, pumpkin pie, cherry pie, chocolate cake, you might find that by December 24th your pie kingdom has morphed into “I’ve got ice cream in the freezer.”  Yup, who doesn’t like ice cream?  Someone will bring you chocolates or cookies and voila!  Your dessert is taken care of.

Seating:  Don’t worry about getting too fancy with your seating arrangement.  As long as everyone can sit and eat it doesn’t matter what they have to sit on.  Plastic stools, lawn chairs…who cares?  It’s about family and being together right?

Gifts:  Buying gifts has become a true tragedy.  If you watch every commercial and try to buy the kids what they want, you will find (especially if there are divorced and/or remarried parents involved) that there will be quadruplicate same gifts!  Avoid this catastrophe.  Go for the stuff they aren’t expecting.  Nothing trademarked.  Nothing Disney.  Nothing Star Wars.  Nothing that anyone else can buy.  Surprises are way more fun and they MIGHT even like it.  Huzzah!

Decorating:  No need to go over the top with decorations.  Yes, it’s nice to make your home feel Christmasy, and a visit to the dollar store or your Goodwill store will have enough to make it ho ho hopefully good enough.  A green garland, some red bows.  Ta-da!

Drinks:  Sure it would be nice to have every variety of booze available to your guests, but even restaurants draw the line.  “Can I get a Pepsi?” you might ask only to hear, “Sorry, we have Coke is the ok?”  Well, it’s not really ok but you take what you can get.  Keep in mind that you are actually paying for getting what you didn’t really want.  So, when guests come over (and they are not paying for anything), they can sip on whatever you have on hand.  Newfie Screech?  By golly why not?!  It’s Christmas!

Clean up:  Wow…look at those mounds of dishes that piled up because it was more important to be with your guests than hanging out washing dishes in the kitchen.  In the old days the women would congregate there and gossip while washing and drying dishes.  Gone are those days.  There are now dishwashers.  Sure it might take you 4 days to cycle all those dishes through the magic washing machine, but who cares?  No one else is coming over so you’ve got lots of time.

Now, if you are…

THE GUEST:

KEEP IT SIMPLE:  

Driving:  Give yourself time to get to your destination.  Parking is what it is.  Don’t wear your nicest shoes as you might have to park in knee deep snow.  Just saying.

Host(ess) Gift:  I find two gifts work out best.  Booze or sweets.  Wine or hard liquor is a win!  If you aren’t sure then chocolates or baked goods work (as they double for dessert at your destination).  Note:  Buy what you like to eat/drink since the hosts usually share whatever they have received.

Don’t overstay:  You may be having a good time, but keep in mind that your host(s) have probably been losing lots of sleep planning the perfect soiree.  If they keep mentioning how late it’s getting, that is a definite subtle clue that it’s time for you to pack up your sorry drunk ass and get on home.

There!  That’s all there is to it!  Sure, you may think this a bunch a hogwash and some are saying, “Well, you don’t know MY family.”  Maybe not, but think about it, the less effort you put in the less people expect of you.  Keep the bar low so no one can limbo under it. Low expectations will keep you off the high expectations list.  Each year will bring less and less stress as you continue to regress.

YOU’RE WELCOME!

 

Crawl, Walk, Run…CATCH ME!

When did life get so serious?  Why have so many people decided that once they hit a certain age it’s inappropriate to laugh out loud and giggle and snort (ok, only some people snort when they laugh…I’m one of them…and THAT’S totally fine!)  Why can’t we laugh hysterically?  I believe that children have a secret that we have all forgotten about.

Here is the scenario.  Adult sitting and chatting with other adults.  Toddler walks by and yells “CATCH ME!”  Adults continue to discuss the news or politics or something else horribly dull and tedious.  Toddler yells louder “CATCH ME!”  Then toddler picks the “chosen chaser” by whacking them on the back.  That got me thinking?  How did this whole chase start?  I know that I pretend to chase them as soon as they are crawling, but how did this actually start?  Did people do this to teach their children to run away from animals or other threats?  If so, when did it go from being a scary thing to a super fun thing?  (See, there goes my adult brain again).  Let’s get back to the chase.

Toddler starts running.  Now, it is also quite interesting how a child runs.  When they are first introduced to this incredibly fun game, they will start running forward.  However, they will keep turning their head backward to watch the person chasing them and see how close they are.  It’s kind of funny watching them run into walls and doorways or trip over toys.  No, I’m not mean.  You would laugh too.  And they can’t run fast enough to actually do any damage.  The whole time the child is running away they are laughing hysterically, which oftentimes slows them down because there are just too many things on the go:  running forward, constantly looking backward, laughing, and the eventual crash into something.  That’s a lot for a little brain to maintain.

Now, once you catch them there is the obligatory tickling or perhaps even the toss up in the air.  Such an adrenaline rush!  Chaser starts walking away and hears “Catch me!”  Yup, time to do it all over again.  This game goes on for about 15 minutes.  After that the child is too exhausted to run and usually trips over their own feet.  The adult is also tired because it’s hard to run (and not run) fast because you can usually catch up to them in two steps.

Now, think about the actual expenses of a game like this one.  No dollar amount.  It’s cheap…unless you are counting losing 15 minutes of your life which you would probably spend doing something adult-like and boring.  Watching a child laugh and giggle makes you feel like a real superhero too.

When parents (guardians) buy toys for their kids, they try to find something that will make their eyes pop open wide with glee.  I find it interesting that as children grow up they will forget the “special” gifts you got for them.  Sure they might have a favourite teddy or blankie, but all the other toys will be forgotten.  What they will always remember is the time you spent with them.  The fun, goofy things you did with them.  Time is more valuable than monetary gifts.

So, when your grandson says to you, “Grandpa come catch me”, and you look at him and say, “I can’t run.  My knees are bad.”  Then the little 3 year old smarty pants giggles and says, “Grandpa, walk and catch me.”  Ha ha ha!  Genius reply!  He found the loop hole.  There will always be ways to play chase.  There will always be those magical memories that seem so insignificant to older people, but the kidlets will remember them forever.

Your time is valuable.  Do something fun with it.  Remember that if they are crawling, walking, or running you can always play the chasing game and feel like a kid again.  A creaking, arthritic kid, but you’ll appreciate that bit of time spent free-wheeling in KidWorld.

Time to end this short escapade of a story.  I’ve been whacked in the back…time to do some chasing!