The allure and excitement of summer are gone as nature begins it slow decay and hibernation cycles. Is this a time for some of us to be more depressed than others? Gone are the bright sunny days and in come the cloudy, chilly, rainy days. Everyone is scurrying to their next station and fewer and fewer people are relaxing in the sun. Yes, psychologists tell us, this is a time when some, and probably more than we can imagine, individuals experience an inner regression of feelings. Something in our nature tells us that we, too, should be hibernating, withholding, losing, and sleeping more.
Not only is nature giving us these dismal signals, but the holidays looming before us present a myriad of problems to adults in every station of life. Where to go for the holidays becomes more complex as families increase their numbers and new members are added to the clan. When to have and what to do at these celebrations seem to have more vinegar than vim. Is there a simple way to handle this added stress during the autumnal season?
First of all, yes, individuals prone to this depression need to stop and survey the world about them. What is most important? Is it really the perfect dishes to complement the turkey dinner? Or would some of the kids actually prefer a less traditional meal? Don’t try to make too many things happen. Just concentrate on the most important and don’t have preconceived notions of what should happen. Difficult to do? Remember, we are just trying to eliminate, or at least lessen, the effects of depression.
Divide each holiday into chunks. Thanksgiving. Christmas. Or Hannukah. What are the family expectations at each holiday and what are you willing to part with?
Let’s begin with Thanksgiving. First, off, the turkey. Easy to make. Stick in the oven. Turn oven on. Cook 3 – 4 hours. Turn if off. Done. Maybe not that simple, but you get the idea. Why make it more difficult? Dressing? Easy. Make it while the turkey bakes.
Now this next step may seem very anti-homemaker. But I can’t help it. I go to Costco each year to purchase my pies. First, I can’t make them as good and never have tasted a homemade pie as good as Costco’s, honest scout! Secondly, I can’t make them that cheap! Really. $5.99 for a pumpkin pie that size? Add to that a salad, some veggies, and voila! A good meal without that pressure of being a perfect hostess. Now that I haven’t labored too hard, I can enjoy a glass of wine with my daughter in laws and sons and not be as frantic as I could be.
When to have this meal? Are you kidding? Thanksgiving Day. But what if the kids are at the inlaws? Great! But I will hold my traditional meal for those who can and want to come. No bad feelings. So, 5 pm on Turkey Day, I will serve my goodies. That leaves the early afternoons for the inlaws, if the kids so desire. . . .
Same thing goes for Christmas. My family celebrated Christmas Eve, but when I married, that tradition was scrapped for Christmas morning and all the hullabaloo that follows. Having a baby on Christmas morning sort of changed that and the Eve became a bit more important, until the boys grew up and married and now it is a staple tradition in our family. I am happy now, but my hubby has to change his concept of Christmas celebrations. I try to keep Christmas Eve simple as well. It’s really the comraderie and fun, rather than the presents and food. Okay, I am lying, it is about the presents as well. I start in July shopping for things and I am a shopper. I love it and I love giving. No chance I will draw names. Nope. But I am flexible on most other things. Even what I prepare. Our family’s traditional dinner on Christmas Eve used to be beet borscht with pirogen, buchteln (rolls with sauerkraut inside), and Christmas cookies. Oh, and a ham. I’ve figured out how to make that stuff the quick way since the kids really don’t like it (and why do I still make it? It’s for ME. I love it). The ham and rolls and a veggie plate make a very nice meal. I’m working on the present overload at the present time….Don’t expect good advice from me in that area!
Now, these are two days and two days only. What do I do the rest of the time to ward off depression? For one, I find great books that inspire and keep me tuned in. I snuggle up on the couch with the fireplace roaring and read. The rain makes a great backdrop for my entry into the story of the book. Add to that a cup of hot tea, with as many refills as I wish, and I’m a happy camper.
I don’t book too many things to do. When I find that I have more than 3 outside social ventures during the week, I find that I am extremely agitated, nervous, and anxious. Not the way I want to feel. So I plan things at my house – reading, writing, and doing art.
Listening to music in the background has been one of my most pleasurable experiences, especially since I can easily create my own station from Pandora. I can relax and I can exercise to that music. All in the confines of my home. Safe and secure. Away from the shopping malls. Away from the crazed energy of the holidays. A time to reflect and dwell on the things I love. Ah, I can feel the stress escaping as I write. I hope for you, too, that you begin to dwell on the important things and take the time to relax and pamper yourself during the fall season.
What other things can you do to chase the blues away?
1. Get a massage.
2. Go to a coffee shop and meet a friend.
3. Clean your house and open the windows. Feel the breeze and clean air.
4. Move your body. Clean a closet. Find things to give to Goodwill or TSA.
5. Start a weekly plan to actually do what you pray about (like visiting the poor, elderly).
6. Start a new tradition of giving to a charity or school at Christmas time. Send a check and a nice letter stating why you have decided to give to this particular charity. For one, I am going to send a check to our local high school’s baseball team. Last week a young man came to the door and tried to sell me $30 worth of grapefruit. I said it was too much food and he said, “I know. Have a great day.” I admired his attitude and wanted his school to know that was the reason I was going to donate $100.
7. Ask your family what they like about the holidays. Their expectations? What they’d like to get rid of?
8. Have a Christmas tree party – all the family can come and help decorate while telling tall stories about the ornaments (most of which are made up), listening to Christmas music and drinking apple cider.
9. Have a cookie party – everyone brings 2 dozen cookies and you divvy up the goodies into a beautiful platter of a variety of cookies. Drink mulled wine and talk about the cookies!
10. Remember that life is too short for negativity. Life is too short for mean tempers to flare. Avoid those who would be your Grinch and embrace those angels around you. Happy holidays!