Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With Strings
The holiday season is a great time of year, but the reality is that there are some strings attached to all of that merry-making. Every year, no matter how good my intentions are to get the gift packages out well before Christmas, it never fails that I miss the timing and I am not able to send them out in time for the recipients to get them on exactly Christmas. This is not an excuse (well it kind of it), but this is what happens: business packages get priority, so those parcels go out first; then, my son comes home from college, and there is cooking to do, Christmas cookies to make, shopping to do, etc… And before you know it, it’s the 22nd or the 23rd, and the gifts are still not out yet.
Aside from the internal clock that is ticking with each day that passes towards the march to Christmas, and the guilt and shame that ensues when you realize you don’t have your act together enough to get the packages out in time, there are signs reminding me of this fact on TV, the radio, in my inbox, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, EVERYWHERE I go. This sense of urgency, combined with all of the other stress factors (financial worries, relationship strains, etc.) that arise particularly during the holidays is one of the things that add to the holiday blues and makes people feel rushed, worried, harried, and inadequate, which gives rise to anxiety and even depression at times.
For years, I had been caught up in the wheel of the holiday rush that seems to make everyone anxious and feel as if they must buy and do everything before the big day. Then, this year, it finally dawned on me: “It’s okay.” Rather than feel a sense of failure or guilt, what if I simply gave myself the permission to be late? What if the packages arrived a few days after Christmas? Would my friends and family feel slighted? Would they be disappointed? Would they disown me or disconnect from me? What would happen?
Most likely, as some friends have told me, your loved ones would be elated. Getting presents in the mail a few days after the holidays is a way of extending the spirit of giving and receiving beyond the holidays, and can lessen the “day-after” blues that many people seem to experience when the holidays are over.
Once I realized this, I immediately felt a sense of peace and calm. The change was instantaneous, and I was amazed as to how much of a difference a little change in mindset can make. Call it self-preservation, call it a cop-out or making excuses if you will. In the end, when we become aware of the fact that all of that pressure to be perfect – to buy the perfect gift, to wrap them in beautiful neat packaging, to time the giving just right, etc…is mostly the product of cultural and societal values that have been promoted for decades, we can simply stop following the same train of thought that leads to anxiety and stress.
Of course, if you’re an amazing multi-tasker and you are organized enough to get everything done in time, you deserve major Kudos! But whether you can do it all or not, we all deserve to give ourselves the permission to curl up on the couch and kick up your feet with a nice cup of hot cocoa and to not stress about whether we’ve done everything there is to do before the holidays.
So here it is, the 23rd of December, and I’m finally sending out my packages today. I'm re-using/up-cycling empty tea tins that I've saved for various uses - they make great shipping containers because they're sturdy and beautiful, and when I send them along to others, I hope they'll devise some other great uses for them as well. After I drop the packages off at the post office, I will email the recipients and let them know that I have sent their presents out and that they will receive them a few days after Christmas. I feel okay about that now because I know that they will appreciate the thought and care that went into the gift that they will receive rather than focus on the fact that they will be late.
Whatever holiday you celebrate, whether it is Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Three Kings Day, or your personal form of the high holidays, I hope you will give yourself permission to de-stress and wish you all the Joy and Peace you can find within your hearts and home this holiday season. Happy Holidays my friends!