It’s Beef Tenderloin For Me This Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving, and the busy holiday season in general, can create a lot of anxiety and stress for many people. While it may be the most festive season of the year, it’s also one laden with expectations, idealized images, conflicting demands on our time (and our wallets) and often a quiet anxiety about spending time with family members who seem to push our buttons quicker and faster than anyone else can.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. As I like to say, stress is not the enemy, stressful thinking is. And when it comes to the holiday season, there are a lot of people thinking stressful thoughts. If you are one of them, then I invite you to think about how you could approach this holiday season a little differently than years gone by (assuming of course that you’d like your experience of it to be a little different than years past). Take a moment to ask yourself how you are placing unnecessary pressure on yourself and how, by shifting your perspective, you could unload some of that pressure, and in its place free up space to play, laugh, relax and enjoy more so that you arrive in January feeling terrific instead of tired and in need of a trip to rehab.
Here are a few ideas to consider as you ponder how you could simplify your approach to the festive season so that you really can bring a spirit of love, gratitude and celebration to the people in your life. And be sure to check out the interview below I just did on how to have a less stressful holiday.
- Don’t “Should” On Yourself (or Let Others “Should” On You): Deciding upfront to let go the idea that your holiday will ever be postcard-perfect will free you up to enjoy it for all that it is, and for all that it isn’t! Drop all the “shoulds” and unrealistic expectations that only create stress, conflict and resentment — “we should all get along,” “the table should be decorated Martha Stewart style”, “we should all have fun,” “everyone should come home for the holidays”, “we should all give thoughtful gifts” …. and the list goes on. It’s our attachment to how things should be that causes the bulk of our holiday stress and upsets. If you let go having to have things be a certain way, it allows you to enjoy things just as they are.
- Create New Traditions (and Throw Out Old Tired Ones): Be careful that you aren’t being a slave to tradition. Sometimes, traditions outgrow themselves. Just because “that’s how we’ve always done it” doesn’t mean you still should. Start a new tradition or, just for this year, break with the old one. We are cooking beef tenderloin for Thanksgiving lunch this year. Not because we don’t like the turkey tradition, but just because it’s quicker and easier to prepare and that suits us better this year. No right or wrong about parting way with tradition… even if just for a year.
- Think Outside the (Gift) Box: The best presents are never the most expensive but the most thoughtful. Give someone a voucher for a massage, breakfast in bed or a night out at the movies and drinks afterward. And of course, spend wisely – you aren’t being generous spending money on others if you can’t afford it.
- Express Gratitude More Generously: Like a sweet treat, expressing gratitude or just paying a compliment has a have a way of immediately lifting others’ spirits by bringing a smile to their face. Just think about whose day you brighten by taking a moment to appreciate today. Pick up the phone, send them a card, flick them an email… it takes only a little time in your day to give it but it can make a profound difference to the person you give it to.
- Lighten Up and Have Fun!: Make sure that in between working your way through your to-do list you make time for fun. Don your playful hat and look for simple ways to have fun, at work and home. Hold silly contests like who has the most unfashionable holiday apparel. Play your golden oldies CDs at breakfast… or in the office (everyone has to bring in their own). Keep your ideas simple and focused on involving everyone and having a fun time.
I’m heading to Florida tomorrow to spend Thanksgiving week in the sunshine (I’m hoping). After nine years living in the US, I’ve finally mustered up my courage to take my four kids to Disney World. And while we are down there we’ll check out Kennedy Space Center and wrestle alligators in the Everglades before heading on to Key Largo to celebrate Thanksgiving (with beef tenderloin) with friends who have a home there (my kind of friends!). Needless to say, a fun week awaits. And the opportunity to create wonderful memories with my family that I’m very thankful for.
Whatever your plans, I hope you can let go all the “shoulds” that may get in the way of you being present to the many blessings in your life. Time to celebrate life!