Author, poet, and all-around inspiration Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”
In other words, the way we react in stressful situations says a lot more about us than the way we react to rainbows and butterflies. And the holidays – with crowded shopping malls, endless parties, and yes, tangled lights – are usually filled with stressful situations.
What’s the difference between the person who sees that knotted mess of tiny bulbs and simply laughs while patiently beginning the detangling process, and the person who grabs a fistful of hair and screams that she’s never putting up that blasted tree again? What’s the difference between the cheerful elf and the Scrooge?
I think it all boils down to whether or not we have one all-important trait: resiliency. A resilient person is one who has the ability to bounce back from difficult situations, who falls down and immediately pops back up, who can take the frustrations and hassles of life in stride.
If your tangled Christmas tree lights have you feeling something less than resilient, remember that you can actually learn how to roll with the punches. Here are some ideas to get you started.
How to Have a Calm, Sane, and Enjoyable Holiday Season—in 3 easy steps!
1. Never say “have to.”
- “We have to go to that annual holiday party, even though it’s boring every year.”
- “We have to outfit our entire acre-wide yard with decorations, even though I’m really not feeling the giant blow-up snowman this year.”
- “I have to bake at least five kinds of cookies, otherwise my kids will protest.”
Guess what? You don’t have to do any of those things. You’ll feel a lot calmer if you ban the words “have to” from your vocabulary, and instead be a little choosy about which gatherings you attend and what activities you do. It might mean saying the dreaded word “no,” but that’s a small price to pay for a more peaceful holiday.
2. Remember that it’s temporary.
Whatever stressful situation you’re facing – be it whining children, the decision about what to serve twenty hungry guests you’re entertaining, or annoying Uncle Bob who always comments on your weight – remember that this too shall pass. Next thing you know you’ll wake up and it will be next year!
3. Focus on what you love about the season.
I know that sounds foolishly optimistic, but it works. Think about your favorite aspects of the holidays (no judgment from me if egg nog tops your list!), write them down, and display them somewhere where you’ll see them daily. It’s easier to focus on the bigger picture if you have a little reminder to do so each day.