I have a bit of a reputation for being a Grinch during the holidays. In fact, that this is currently the holiday display that lives outside of my house.
Now, I like the idea of the winter holidays. I love presents and eating too much and family and spiritual connection. A lot, actually. So I’m not totally sure where this has come from. I suspect years of working retail with angry customers and never ending lines has something to do with my limited holiday cheer. After all the gifts are open and turkey has been eaten, I am always left with a generalized feeling of sadness… like the excitement and anticipation of Christmas morning was more fun than the actual event. Add to this that as a child, I once knocked over the Christmas tree during a game of hide-and-go-seek in the dark (after being explicitly told not to play that) which not only destroyed the tree but also ruined several presents, and I still remember the shame feelings of being the kid who ruined Christmas for the family.
Because of this, I used to put off getting ready for the holidays until I couldn’t hold off anymore and was a total stress ball the moment I broke out the advent calendar. I felt a lot of pressure to deliver magic and make incredible memories. Every. Single. Year.
So much so, that during a holiday season several years ago – when I was a very poor student I didn’t have enough money to give my kids the type of Christmas morning I wanted to give them – I signed up for some very intense medical testing that paid $400 upon completion of the study. It involved having a shunt put into my artery and being strapped by a facemask into CT scan for over an hour. While I lay in the machine, tears filling the facemask and flooding into my ears, I was asked if I wanted to stop but felt that I couldn’t because I needed that $400 to deliver a spectacular Christmas to my kids.
I think that was the moment my inner Grinch completely took over.
The holidays then became something to be endured. A series of traditions to comply with until I could ring in the New Year.
Until 2014, when I vowed to do things differently. I cut back on the presents. I had family come to us instead of loading up the car with gifts and rushing out the door early Christmas morning. I invited friends who weren’t celebrating with their family to join us. I arranged for my ex to take the kids Christmas evening so I could have some time to myself to rest and be alone after a flurry of activity.
And it was amazing. It was a moment of ‘ohhhhh this is why people love the holidays!’
So now I make all winter holidays this relaxed. I’ve even finished all my shopping for the year and it’s not even December yet. Can I get a high five for online shopping?
If you are feeling your inner Grinch this year, or just feeling overwhelmed and want to find some joy in the chaos, I can help. Book your Holiday Survival Session here and we can get through it together.
Olivia Scobie, M.A., ACC, CPCC, MSP