Holiday Hijinks, with Knitting

Actually, "hijinks" might be too strong a word choice here, but I really like the word "hijinks" so I used it. I have a list that I keep of words that I like, because I like words and I like lists, so that makes sense to me. Some random words from my list: pith, conflagration, vim and foible...but I digress.

I can tend to get a little freaked out about holidays. (If you examine that sentence, and remove the superfluous cushions, you'll see: I get freaked out about holidays.) Maybe it's the perfectionist people-pleaser in me, but whatever the cause, holidays get to me. We took a "holiday quiz" a few years ago and the kids picked Halloween as their favorite holiday because Mom doesn't get stressed about Halloween. Halloween requires virtually nothing from me and the expectation levels are healthy and I love pumpkins, so yeah, Halloween is pretty much stress-free. This was pretty enlightening to me, as I assumed that Christmas would top their Favorite Holiday list, but it turns out that Christmas tops the list for Holidays That Stress Mom Out. (Why is that even a list?)

It's true. Christmas can be one long session of nightmare workaholic perfectionist guilt: cards, gifts, shopping, movies, parties, performances, outfits, cookies, food, etc. I know this will sound very Grinch-like, but wow can we cram one more thing into that month? And as it is now mid-October all this holiday madness is only mere days away and I'm exhausted already. What's that? You, too? I knew I wasn't alone.

OK, so here's the plan: We are NOT going to panic. Once upon a time, Christmas was something we loved. Like an exciting new knitting project that over time loses its momentum, Christmas needs to be dug out of the bag under the bed and faced head on.

Remember how we purged projects and yarn in Finish For Fall? It felt good to focus and know what was worth taking the time to finish (beaded scarf we hate, NO; socks for hubby, YES). We are going to make a list, several lists if needed. Examine the holidays. What stresses you out? What should you keep? What should you never ever, under any circumstances, do again during the holiday season? And my favorite: What would a stress-free holiday look like? (It looks like Halloween, but I'm pretty sure they won't let me celebrate that in October AND December, too. It's pretty much a one-shot deal.) All of those perfect holidays we see in magazines and on Pinterest and HGTV are not going to happen for us because we are not a full-time staff of decorators, seamstresses and cooks. Unless you in fact are a staff of such, in which case, go for it.

I know that you just can't spring A Different Christmas This Year on your unsuspecting family. I've tried it and believe me, you don't want to go there. This will take strategy and preparedness and a plan. In the long run, if you are happier, more relaxed and actually able to enjoy your holiday, the family will come around, provided you first ease them into it.

Here are some tips for calming the hijinks in your holiday. They are knitting-related because that's what this blog is supposed to be about...

  • Do not try to cast on a project after November 1 for giving in December. Madness.
  • Do try to knit a little bit every day.  It's your hobby and it brings you pleasure. Don't neglect it till January.  Don't neglect YOU till January, either.
  • Don't laugh in the face of the friend who offers to pay you to knit a sweater for their co-worker's Christmas gift. This may be your first impulse, but curb it in the spirit of the holiday. Politely but firmly thank them for their confidence in your abilities, but decline the offer. Then you can laugh, just not in their face.
  • Don't be upset if you can't finish a holiday gift in time (which we all know you started before Nov. 1, right?). My sweet friend Dianne has proof that even an unfinished gift is well-loved.
  • Do try to remember that you once anticipated the holiday season with excitement, not dread. Like rediscovering neglected old yarn that you loved when you bought it, find a purpose for the holiday that will make it fun again.

Christmas and other holidays are not bad, they just need dusting off and refurbishing. Underneath all of the unrealistic expectations, holidays still have some vim, they needn't turn into a conflagration of stress and accentuate all our foibles.

2008. Seems like yesterday.

2008. Seems like yesterday.

The pith, the essence of it all is this:

Even if you don't have kids, the people you spend your holidays with aren't getting any younger (and neither are you, but you look marvelous, so don't let it get you down). If we can just figure out how to spend less time trying to put Martha Stewart out of a job, we will be able to find the time to tell someone they are special. And isn't that what the holiday hijinks are about after all?