As we sat there in our camp chairs, bundled up in blankets, thermoses of hot chocolate on standby, I still couldn’t believe it was that time of year again. We looked on in awe and wonder. We pointed. Laughed. Remarked. Watched as people stood in line, waiting. Some tried to sneakily move ahead while those in front of them talked with friends or family. We were just biding our time until the clock hit midnight and the real fun began. It was our third year of Black Friday tailgating. That’s right. We don’t actually shop on Black Friday...we tailgate. It only lasts for about an hour or so. When it’s done, we get to go home with fun memories and climb into our warm beds while others are fighting off swarms of shoppers who would just as soon pull a Walking Dead move and bite your arm to get you to drop that holiday Barbie as they would look at you. We’ve yet to see anyone get arrested, but there’s always this year.
Black Friday tailgating is one of the little things my friends and I do to make our holiday season special. Some of our family has even started joining in. It may not be the most traditional way to kick off the season, but it works for us. It brings us a little cheer in what can often be a very stressful time. I think sometimes we lose sight of what this time of year should be about. Joy. We get lost in the commercialization of it and allow stress to take over. This year, get out of your own way. As much as we hate to admit it – I know I do – our stress is sometimes directly related to our ability to deal with the situations we face. During the holidays, those situations are often self-induced. Here are some ways to help you make it through the season with a smile instead of a migraine.
First...know your limits. Decide to do only the things you know you can finish without reverting to less than 5 hours of sleep per night. Saying “no” isn’t the end of the world. You’ll feel more successful.
Next...make time to do some things that cheer you up and that will create special memories for you and those you care about. Here are a few ideas for doing just that:
- Give yourself a gift. You’re always trying to do for everyone else, this year do something for you. Take a cooking or photography class (or whatever you’re into). Go on a day trip or give yourself a spa day right in the middle of the chaos of the season. Just do something for you.
- Volunteer. There’s nothing more gratifying than helping someone else and expecting nothing in return. Open your heart to the true spirit of the season.
- Set up a new tradition. Get everyone together for something fun and unexpected. It doesn’t have to be the typical holiday get together. I mean, how much more unexpected can you get than Black Friday tailgating?
Finally...be prepared. There are going to be moments (and probably people) that test your sanity. Maybe there’s that one cousin who always criticizes your wardrobe or choice in a significant other. Make the decision in advance not to take anything she says too personally and have a few topics ready that you can both agree on...steer the conversation in that direction. It’s better than mentally envisioning pushing her face into the banana pudding the entire time you’re talking to her.
The holiday season doesn’t have to be as stressful as it was last year. Just take some time to breathe and make it what you want it to be.
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