By Vivian Manning-Schaffel
Ah, the charm of the holidays. The warm reunions with our loved ones. The magical glint of candles twinkling in the menorah. The giggle of children, eagerly anticipating Santa’s bounty.
Then, there are stressful realities. Familial relationships can be dysfunctional. Eggnog sticks to even the most prepubescent of backsides. And credit card companies have absolutely no qualms in charging you and your decent FICO score a cruel 28% extra for a $250 Wii your kids just couldn’t live without.
All a gal wants is for her loved ones to have a good time, but unfortunately, good times come at a steep price tag these days. Wouldn’t we be better off if we let go of our great expectations, sidestepped all the stress, and reshaped those fantasies into fun, attainable realities?
Here’s how I do it:
Let Go, Let Golf
Yeah, that’s right. I said golf. Who says you have to build family holiday traditions on clichés? Sure, spending endless hours creating the perfect popcorn garland might have been your Aunt Millie’s idea of a rollicking good time, but if your aunt isn’t around anymore and this activity truthfully bores you and your loved ones, what’s the point in maintaining the tradition?
It’s your vacation, dammit. Try to at least spend some your precious hours off engaged in a relaxing activity that the majority of your family members find enjoyable.
Like golf. Nothing brings on the zen like a round or two of mini-golf.
Address The Stress
Between the school events, the office parties, and the neighborhood gatherings, our schedules get so clogged around the holidays that we forget to breathe.
Take an evening off to chillax. Let your mother’s complaints about your cousin go to voicemail. Draw a bubble bath. Order in. Watch Gossip Girl.
And watch the bags under your eyes, and your agita, start to diminish.
Love The Ones You’re With
Sometimes the stress of travel can squander the best laid holiday plans. If for some reason you can’t make it back to where you consider home, don’t sequester yourself in your hovel with a box of Kleenex, endless Friends reruns and the remnants of last night’s Chinese takeout.
I didn’t make it home for Thanksgiving for years. Instead, I’d take the subway to my best friend’s pad and we’d settle in for an AbFab marathon. After polishing off a few cocktails, we’d relish the quiet empty streets of Manhattan, eventually settling on the best prix-fixe dinner we could find, toasting the fun we had during the year.
Someone near you must like you. Pick up the phone, gather up some friendly folks and get a party started just because. Call it a potluck and do it on the cheap. Or go out on the town and treat yourselves to a nice meal and casual conversation with other holiday renegades.
I have a family of my own now and we’re in the process of developing our own Thanksgiving traditions. But each Thanksgiving, I can’t help but miss those carefree Thanksgivings of yore with my best bud, delightfully unfettered by familial social obligations. And even though we no longer live a mere subway ride away from each other, I always give him a buzz to tell him.
Vivian Manning-Schaffel is a writer at MomLogic.com. She has written for Babble, Parenting, The Advocate, The New York Post, Business Week and a variety of other publications and lives and works in the heart of breeder Brooklyn with her husband and two kids.