the grinch should probably try a yoga class…

Please tell me I’m not the only one who feels slightly affronted each time a well-meaning person casually asks, “So, all ready for Christmas or what?”.

I have to stifle the maniacal laughter that is my first reaction to this, and restrain myself from sputtering, “Are you crazy?! No!!”. My brain still refuses to acknowledge that Christmas is, in fact, less than three weeks away.

I thought I’d shed all my grinchy tendencies and finally learned to love Christmas, but this year I’m just not feeling it. No particular reason, but I cannot seem to get into holiday mode at all. Everything seems too early, too much. I came home this past Sunday to the house Christmas-ified – since when do we put a tree up on December 2?! Houses decked out in Christmas lights and front yards filled with inflatable snowmen seem garish atop a dead, brown lawn. (Note: I am NOT saying I’d prefer a snow covered lawn. Just sayin’ the whole scene looks…wrong).  It’s not even a week into December, and the stores and radio stations have already played all the go-to Christmas songs to death. (Michael Bublè, I’m sorry, but stawwwwwwwp. Enough.)

But, I think the thing that is most detracting from my festive mood, is how progressively crankier people become as the month goes on. It starts so early each year – the pressure of the holidays. Decorations, gifts, get-togethers – all the expectations and obligations pile up on us and it’s easy to let it that pile weigh heavy on our minds and the stress takes over.

I’m grateful – I don’t have too too much to worry about during the holidays. A handful of people to buy presents for, a few batches of cookies to bake, a half-dozen family dinners to go to. Small potatoes compared to most peoples’ to-do lists this time of year, and even I get a lil bit overwhelmed by all the goings-on. I can totally understand why some people are on-edge and less-than-their-best selves thanks to the stress of holiday prep. I see this first-hand, working at a customer-focused job. People get nasty this time of year, cracking under the pressure of pulling off the *perfect* Christmas once again. Perfectionist tendencies lash out, insisting you get everything just right.

Will the neighbours judge us for having too many lights on the house? Or not enough?? Is the tree fluffed just right? How can I cook a full turkey dinner plus a choice of desserts for the entire extended family, all made from scratch and plated to look like something out of a magazine? Will the kids’ teachers like the gift I got them? What about my impossible-to-please mother in law? Am I supposed to buy something for my hairdresser??

HOLD UP. Take a breath.

Does this not seem just a little ridiculous to you? The stress we put on ourselves, and why? We’ve taken a time that should be happy and easy, spent simply enjoying the company of our friends and family, and turned it into an enormous pile of stress. One big commercial racket.

Here’s a little heads up: whether you beat yourself to a snot rushing around to get all the details just so, or you take a few lil shortcuts (cranberry sauce from a can is actually not the end of the word), it’s all going to get done. Either way, the night of December 25th, the family will be together, everyone’s bellies will be full, and there will be little scraps of wrapping paper everywhere. No one’s going to care if the top-of-the-tree angel kind of looks ready for a nosedive. You won’t be reported to Martha Stewart if your turkey looks a little unphotogenic. And gifts? Everyone’s got more than they need anyway, but you’re not going to forever be known as “the aunt who gives bad presents” just because your judgment was a little off this year. You don’t need to stress about this stuff!!

My advice is the same as it always is: yoga. (I still believe it’s its own kind of magic that can fix anything and everything). Maybe instead of rushing around the grocery store picking up just-in-case extras you probably won’t need, spend that hour at a yoga class.

It’s what I love about yoga, year-round: it’s an escape from the day-to-day stress. And at Christmastime, that day-to-day stress is amped up on max. But at a yoga studio, it doesn’t matter if it’s December 1st or Christmas eve or some random Tuesday in May. You enter, and let yourself get lost in the class, and the outside world and its stressors disappear, if only for that hour. Couldn’t we all use a lil breather, a lil break?

You’ve all heard the expression “you can’t pour from an empty cup”. If ever there’s a time that that rings true, it’s at Christmas. You can’t orchestrate a perfect holiday celebration if you’re worn ragged trying to get it all together (and even if you’re in peak form, aiming for “perfect” is just setting yourself up for a bad time). Take some time to look after yourself and your sanity, even if it means letting a few little details slide. I’m sure your family would rather be around a pleasant version of you, amidst a bit of mess, than a snippy, stressed-out you who’s got the house looking like a real-life winter wonderland.

So yeah – yoga. Magic. Even if you can’t squeeze in actually going to a yoga class, youtube has lots of at-home practices you can do. Even take a few moments each morning to sit in stillness on your mat; take a few quiet moments to disconnect from the Christmas Crazies. You’ll thank yourself later, when your coworkers start talking about how up-to-their-eyeballs they are, and you suddenly realize you’re actually feeling pretty okay about it all. Yeah, you might still have a three-page list of things you have to do (or maybe not do, no big deal), but no worries – it’ll get done. Just try to hide your smug lil yogi grin.

As always, mai pen rai. No worries. It’s gonna be okay.
Try not to stress yourself out about it; maybe even (*gasp*) enjoy the festivities, instead of trying to make sure they’re perfect?
And get your butt on the yoga mat. Consider it your gift to yourself – tick! – one more name checked off the shopping list. You deserve it.

Namaste, Merry Christmas (it’s too early, but whatever, everyone else has started apparently…) ❤

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