Here’s the thing: Find a way to keep yourself afloat

Every holiday season I try to adopt an attitude that will keep me afloat. It’s my version of wearing a life jacket of sanity. When I start to feel things are getting out of control like it does every year, I just slip it on. It helps me remember that I can get through it. It happens enough that now I make a point to be intentional to cheer myself up.

That’s got to be the bleakest thing I’ve ever written. But it’s true. So it stays.

Last year the sanity holder was vacation. We went on a nice vacation to Hawaii, so by the time we got back for the holidays we were well rested and excited to see everybody. The year before that we were sick. In fact, I feel like almost every November or December someone gets sick. Between the sun’s disappearing act, the flu bug hitting the schools, and getting caught in the crossfire of severe weather changes, our bodies aren’t as hardy as I wish they would be.

My life jacket of sanity this year is being happy that we’re all healthy. Very simple. It reminds me that things could always be worse. When the kids are grumpy, I’ve had a long day, and the dishes and laundry start piling up (more than usual), it never fails that remembering we’re healthy takes me to a better place. That might be sad, but it’s the power of positive negative thinking or something along those lines. It feels a little like being the guy in the crowd cheering that it’s OK that the team is mediocre, because at least they’re not horrible. Yay for not being horrible!

The other reminder that keeps me sane is knowing that December will fly by and soon it will be January. It reminds me to savor the short-lived Christmas cheer happening right before our eyes, because before I know it, it will all slam shut like a book. The end. Christmas is over. So enjoy the next couple weeks that offer good cheer, buying gifts for others, and bathing in eggnog. Next time this season feels overwhelming, grip onto the life jacket of holiday cheer as you bob along with your head above water and remember that it’s temporary. Enjoy it!

It’s not easy to enjoy it. It’s easy to be hard on yourself. Especially this time of year when you can literally feel people’s holiday expectations seep out of their pores and into yours. When there are so many distractions and you feel the pinch of your schedule and the pressure of responsibilities, it’s quite easy to check out little by little. My efforts to stave against this happening starts small. I’m always re-reading school fliers so I don’t miss something important. Checking old emails, so no one got lost in the junk mail. Going over my calender for the millionth time. Digging out each crumpled list from my purse, my bag, and my purse bag to rewrite one list to rule them all. One list to find them. One list to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

I’m a little all over the place with having to give myself daily positive feedback and making little efforts to keep life balanced, but that is the best case scenario. I’ve actually texted my friends to ask them what day it is. Our house looks like a battle zone with live-in warriors. We play dinner roulette more than I’d like to admit. If we have a good attitude and take the time to flip the perspective, all of that doesn’t seem so scary. At least I have friends that can laugh with (at) me. My house isn’t decorated festive or smells like fresh baked goods, but it’s our battlefield and our safe haven all in one. God bless this mess and kick the stress. Dinner roulette might be fast food or it might be a new creation. As long as it doesn’t come alive and kill us all, we’re good.

Here’s the thing: I rarely think about survival mode until the pumpkins start showing up in my lattes and immediately we’re being surrounded by red and green glitter everything. It can be a struggle to make the best of the holidays when you feel the sudden pressure to enjoy them as well. We get busy, distracted, irritated, and that’s life when you’re an adult that works hard. The good news is that most people understand. Especially this time of year. People join together with the common courtesy of understanding one another and enjoying another season of peace, love, and joy. So take a deep breath and enjoy the ride together. Go easy on yourself. Adopt a positive attitude. Make awkward life jacket metaphors. Savor the next few weeks!

Kasi McClure enjoys being a wife and mother of two in Kenai. She can be reached at columnkasi@gmail.com.

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