When Scott and I first met, it was over the holiday season in 2006. I was semi-homeless, having left an abusive relationship and, living in an unfinished basement in the cold Northeast. Scott on the other hand was a steady, stable bachelor almost a decade older than I. We really had very little in common, other than our rather relaxed approaches toward life -but something clicked. For me at first, it was that truly he needed nothing from me. (Including but not limited to, my identity, which had been manipulated by my previous relationship.)
That first holiday season was so, so simple. I bought him a Christmas ornament with his name on it. And he gave me a heater for my basement-home. (Scott's gifts are always fabulously useful; and I love that about him.)
A few years later, as things became more serious, I realized that the holidays were not so simple. I'm a minimalist, and we joke that I would be absolutely content living in a tepee. I'm the last to remember that many people expect gifts (other than books or flowers or a cup of tea or a hug) for their birthdays. And for two years after my daughter was born, I didn't purchase new winter clothes. Not that I fit in maternity-wear anymore. I'm just not much of a shopper. My husband, on the other hand, was raised to be a gift-giver. He comes from a long line of gift-givers, and gift-lovers (it's an actual love language, I've come to find out - as our daughter adores gifts too!). Which means my world of simple holidays ceased to exist.
Even though we've moved 3,000 miles away from the family we shared this season with, holidays are still not simple. Gift-givers don't stop giving gifts once you've moved! In fact, those first few years, I think they showered us with even more gifts because - really - how else could they show us their love?
It's been twelve years since my husband and I shared that first simple holiday - and a decade since the adventure into Magnano Holiday's began. But I still find myself out of sorts at the beginning of each season. I'll make little requests (can we have a few less decorations this year?), forgetting I request that every year, and Scott will (like the year before) willingly keep a few odds and ends in storage.
Have I mentioned I'd like to live in a tepee? I am honored by all the gifts that arrive on our front steps. But a cup of tea with a friend or a walk in the woods or SNL reruns with my husband after the babies go to bed? That's really my space.
Today, as we begin to dive into our Seasonal Stress-Less series, I'd love to know what your "space" is? What do you need to do to make the holidays more of a cup-filler for you?
1. Choose joy. In the above verse, after listing the utter despair of the moment, Habakkuk states, I will be joyful. Whether or not you are a person of faith, joy matters. Joy is a mindset; and a fruit of the spirit. How can you find joy in the midst of wildness? For me, I bask in the simplicity of the season - one that revolves around Jesus. I have a creche (manger) on our kitchen table to remind me that yes I can handle all of the hub-bub, as long as I remember what the weeks leading up to December 25th are all about. (I can do anything for my Jesus.)
2. Manage expectations. In our home, stress prevention isn't always possible because of a little word called "expectations" (if you're raising a child on the spectrum - or you find yourself at dis-ease with sudden change, you'll understand this). But when stress prevention is possible, we dig in! Example: our daughter has high sensory and anxiety-related needs. This means she got to pick where the Christmas tree was placed this year. Simple? Absolutely. Helpful? It has seemed to be so, even if she's attempted to rewire it! (Oh, those precious risk-takers. And yes, we're getting support for this.)
3. Fill your cup. And then fill it again, and again, and again. The easiest ways that I've found to do this during a busy season like Christmas are showers in the evening (typically, no one comes to talk to me through the glass or asks me to tie a bow while I'm bathing at 9 pm); gratitude (and lots of it!); and adrenal support. Hormones like adrenaline can make the best of us turn into the worst of us if they're not under control. Confianza, an adaptogenic adrenal supplement is my go-to for this!
Now it's your turn. What tips do you have for stress management for this holiday season? What can you share that we haven't covered yet? Next week we'll be diving into Stress Management, because sometimes wildness does get the best of us! In my experience though, it's just another opportunity to grow.
As always, I'm so thankful to be here with you.
I love sharing helpful resources! I may also make a small cut that keeps me fully caffeinated and my brain research-packed (because we can't serve from an empty well, and I really love collecting all the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom I can for both of us.) Always, I'll do my best to keep you on the right path, but I'm no doctor even though I play one at home - often - and mostly for myself. Life with CFS sure keeps things interesting! Life with you + CFS keeps things full of JOY, too.