1. Be prepared.
Whether you forget to have a tiny screwdriver on hand or you forget to pick up the batteries at the store, make sure you have the miscellaneous odds and ends you need before this holiday gets started. Sometimes it's a tiny little things like packing tape or extra forks for your holiday dinner. Take a quick inventory over the next few days and see what you might be missing.
2. Don't let the spirit of the season get lost in the shuffle.
This time of year some people focus too much on gifts, both receiving and giving, and less about the opportunity to spend more time together. When your kids get big always remember, they might not remember the small little gift that was in their stocking, but they'll remember those extra 15 games of Battleship that you played with them over the long holiday weekend.
3. There's no "u" in "holiday", but there should be.
We're always worried about what other people want, what other people need. Maybe your daughter won't eat waffles without that special on the TV or your son wants a very specific toy that's hard to find. Maybe you're making sure that you have that extra special Brandy on hand that your Great Uncle Pete from Missouri. We're always worried about what other people want and what other people need. I'm not saying that's not important -- I just want you to take a moment and stop and smell the roses. If you're the only one in your house that likes chestnuts roasting over an open fire, do it! You don't need a reason to do something just for yourself. This holiday season is going to be unbelievably successful large in part because of you. Take a moment and do something that only you like.
4. Chuck that guilt out the window!
Maybe you waited too long to get the best selling toy and they were sold out. Maybe you forgot to get a few extra sets of holiday lights for your front windows. Maybe you forgot to send out holiday cards. Maybe you overcooked the holiday dinner to a crisp and you had to eat hot dogs. Like in the movie Frozen, "Let It Go." Nobody will remember anything but the big picture of the holiday season. Most of the time we are the ones guilting ourselves. No one's even making us feel bad. We just know that we could've been that much better. This year... let that go.
5. Close your eyes and breathe.
If your kids go from sweet little angels to whirling dervishes because they're all hopped up on sugar, just close your eyes take a deep breath. Actually specifically do this. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, hold for a count of four, and breathe that out for a count of four. Do this a few times in a row. But make sure you're counting! The counting is actually an important part. It'll distract you. If it's not your kids, or your spouse, or your in-laws, it could be the woman behind you at the checkout counter or the UPS delivery person. Everyone is stressed to the nines during the holidays -- you are no different. The only difference is you are now armed with a great tool, also known as breathing! Take a moment. Do this exercise! You'll thank me later.
6. Continue your family traditions or start new ones.
This year I'm thinking of starting a new tradition with my children on Christmas Eve. It's actually an old tradition that I'm bringing back into the fold. It's something that my grandmother used to do with me and it stopped when she passed away. I didn't have the courage to bring it back. Every time I would think about it, I would miss her too much. Now, she's been passed for some time, and my twins are getting big. It's time to bring back some family traditions and keep her alive in spirit.
I'm not a religious person, but my grandmother would always try to teach me this prayer on Christmas Eve. It's an old Italian prayer and the only time that it is to be spoken out loud is on Christmas Eve. One Christmas Eve a few years before she passed, I said, "You know what Nanny, I'm gonna write it down." Knowing I have the worst memory in the world, I'm so glad I was smart enough to do that. The memory for me wasn't the actual prayer, the memory for me was my grandmother taking me aside from all the hustle and bustle of the holidays into a quiet room, sitting me on the bed quietly, holding my hands, and reciting this prayer with me. She could've been reciting the National Anthem for all I cared. It was the fact that she took the moment to spend the time with me. As the matriarch of an Italian family, she was front and center to everything. Christmas Eve was her moment to shine. With the Feast of the Seven Fishes, and a ton of friends and family around, she still didn't even blink when it was time to go into that room and recite that prayer. What a special memory for me. It's time my children have that.
I hope a few of these tips have helped you. To sum it up, be prepared, take a breath, let go of guilt, start a new tradition, enjoy the season, and do something for yourself!
From my family to yours. I wish you the happiest of holidays! -Nat