Sunday, December 3, 2017

Ten Tips for an Easier Holiday Season

Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp

a division of United Stroke Alliance

The following was originally posted in the StrokeNet Newsletter 
December 1, 2017. 

by Deb Theriault

Enjoy Yourself!!

Yikes!! Another holiday season is here. How did this happen? 😊 Back in 2012, I wrote an article entitled “Suggestions for a Simpler Post-Stroke Holiday.” Here’s a “re-do” on some points I covered then, plus a few new ones that could make the difference between enjoying vs. dreading the holiday season.

1    “Re-imagine” your holiday.

 Feeling a bit “empty” about the holidays? List what you’d like
 your holiday to be, thencross off one item that means the least 
 to you. Repeat until you’ve winnowed the list down to 3 or 4 
 realistic “wishes.”
The remaining items are the ones that mean the most to you; make them a reality. Don’t feel guilty for letting go of meaningless obligations.

2    Take LOTS of breaks

It’s easy to overdo when handling holiday preparations. Suggestion: set a timer to remind you to take breaks, or have a relative or friend call you at pre-set times to remind you.

3    Take part in at least one special activity (besides attending 

   Some Ideas:

   ● Attend a tree lighting ceremony, holiday concert or play

   ● If ambulatory, take a winter nature walk, or walk in an urban
      setting that’s decked out for the holidays

● Enjoy holiday lights: drive, or walk, through your neighborhood or go to a holiday “light show” in your town; if nothing else, search on-line for holiday light displays. Sounds strange, but many sites post terrific light displays from around the country and, for that matter, around the world.

● - If you feel up to it:

● help hand out presents to disadvantaged kids, kids of military members deployed overseas or kids in the hospital over the holidays

● volunteer at a food bank, soup kitchen or local animal shelter, to give “regular” volunteers a break.

4    Decorate easier

● Choose a couple rooms (or foyer) and highlight the fireplace, door, special window, table, sideboard, or hutch, etc.

● Use “projection” lights to brighten the outside of your home vs. stringing traditional lights. Projection lights are getting better each year, and they create a lovely effect.

● Use LED candles; they’re looking more realistic every year.

● Use floral or fruit “picks” to decorate your tree, a wreath, or just about anything; the effect can look surprisingly professional. Reasonably-priced picks can be had at “dollar”, discount and craft stores.

● Display fresh greens, berries and pine cones, or various glass ornaments, in a large bowl

● Just place some large bows in high profile areas; again, “dollar” and discount stores are good sources.

5    Give it up

● Give away decorations you no longer use. It can feel uncomfortable giving up things that have been a part of your holidays over the years, but maybe it’s time to let others enjoy these decorations as much as you have.

● Give up attending meaningless holiday parties. If you aren’t excited about going, then skip it.

6    Simplify gift giving
● Give people gifts they can “experience”: tickets to a special event, concert, play, or the zoo, museum, movies, amusement parks and other attractions. Tickets for nearly all of these can be purchased on-line.

● Give gift cards to restaurants and eateries.

● Purchase the recipient a class or lessons for yoga, arts, crafts, a sport, meditation, dance, cooking, tai chi; the possibilities are endless. If the pickings are sparse in the recipient’s locale, consider giving self-enrichment classes that can be taken on-line.

● Give a “food subscription” (coffee, fruit, candy, treats, you name it) even if just for a couple months

● Make a donation (in their name) to a person’s favorite charity

● When in doubt, a well thought out gift card is fine

7    Pass the baton

There’s no shame in asking others to take over holiday gatherings, or to bring food to your event. My family’s been bringing a side dish or dessert to our Christmas Day celebration for some time now. Last year I even ordered the main dish from a local Whole Foods market. I didn’t regret it. What’s important is being together to enjoy the food.

In the next couple years, I’ll pass the baton for Christmas Day festivities to one of my daughters-in-law. It’ll be hard for me to give up this “sacred” tradition, but I’m sure I’ll get over it. 😊

Also, most families have special holiday foods. Pass these family recipes on to younger generations, by photocopying the recipes and putting them in a binder, OR by scanning the recipes and gathering them into a digital file on a “flash drive”.

8    Initiate a “no politics”/ no controversial talk policy at 

If your family / friends are mostly reasonable, but prone to get into political (or other “charged”) arguments, politely tell your guests in advance that it will be a “no political talk” / “no controversial talk” event (if you’re not hosting, ask the event’s host to announce this).

If anyone ignores your wishes, you (or the host) should calmly call a halt to the arguing, and remind everyone about the rule. Redirect the conversation by having each person tell about an interesting activity or thing they did during the past year.

Anyone who absolutely refuses to comply with the rule should be asked to leave. (If you’re at another person’s house and the obnoxious person won’t leave, then you may want to excuse yourself and go.)

Believe me, most of the other guests will be happy that these selfish individuals were asked to take a hike. Either way, whatever you do, stick to your guns, if your family / friends try to persuade you otherwise. You deserve much better than a rotten time and unhappy memories.

9    Meditate on the meaning of the season
Regularly take a few moments to re-charge your batteries by actualizing what the season is supposed to be about: family, friends, selflessness, sharing, kindness, giving and caring. No matter what, keep focused on these.

10    When all else fails……

If you become overwhelmed, remind yourself that this too shall pass (until next year).

Deb survived her third stroke in 2006. In addition to her work with the Stroke Network, Deb is Treasurer for the W. Pa. Division of the US Fencing Assoc., does community gardening in her neighborhood and is a professionally-trained artist who has been specializing in figure drawing for many years.
Copyright ©December 2017
The Stroke Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 492 Abingdon, Maryland 21009
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