Surviving the Holidays

Apparently you made it through Thanksgiving. Good!

Now there are just a half dozen weeks of celebrations to weather.

As surprising as it may seem, most of us manage to enjoy the holidays without merely using them as an excuse to over-indulge in various mind or mood altering medications. How can that be?

The word for this success is focus – or perhaps more accurately, where is your focus?

If you focus on yourself and what you’ve always done, well, guess what, you will do what you’ve always done. That shouldn’t be much of a revelation.

And if you focus on what you can’t do, or at least claim what you don’t want to do, namely drinking and/or drugging, then that focus on the void in your usual behaviors will simply lead you to resentment, feeling of deprivation, and a prompt return to the same old, same old.

If you want a different result, then, as we have all heard a million times, you need a different approach – or, in this case, a different focus.

Did it ever occur to you to focus on something, or someone, other than yourself?

Or even to focus on yourself in different ways?

“If I’m not going to be getting drunk/high/stoned with A, B, and/or C then what could I do instead?”

In my case I like to bake: a dozen fruitcakes in September to age until December; 18 dozen Hungarian nut rolls to go out to people too distant to visit; half a dozen different pies for various folk’s holiday dinners.

Some years I have made it a point to host holiday dinners for people with nowhere to go nor anyone to be with.

Other times I have volunteered to help out at different functions.

Occasionally I have surrounded myself with books that had gone unread and had a private literary binge.

Yes, a few decades back, my holidays tended to be alcohol fueled marathons which filled the time but cost me any number of opportunities to engage in meaningful celebrations, interactions, or simple reflection on the year(s) gone by.

While it violates the self-medicator’s #1 Rule: “Never make plans as that will interfere with my drinking,” wasn’t interfering with holidays-as-usual the point?

Time: Your Only Finite Resource

Most of us spend a lot of time avoiding thinking about time – specifically “our allotted time.”

We don’t like thinking about how the world got along just fine before we arrived and likely will continue to do so after we’ve departed.

Some of us were lucky enough to be introduced to death at an early age and never had illusions that we’d be around forever. Others are so much in denial that they can’t even sign a will or make other end-of-life arrangements.

For those who fall into the middle of these two extremes, and who like making New Year’s resolutions, this is a good time to settle back and think about the next year, or two, or five or…..

Think about what you would be very unhappy not to have finished, or visited, or who you have neglected, or what you have kept meaning to do but haven’t gotten around to.

Notice that this suggestion is a logical follow-up to the foregoing article?
When you have some inkling about what you’d like to accomplish, complete, contribute, promote – then you can begin to schedule measurable markers towards achieving these goals.

No, it’s not just you I am spurring. I have four almost completed, publishable manuscripts: one 40 years old; one that’s been gathering dust for 15 years; another left over from 1984; and one that’s just been languishing since my knee surgery in August. There are also another eight or ten that are roughed out.

Guess what? At my age I am well aware that I don’t have another 35 or so years to procrastinate. Surgery and a long recovery – which won’t be over for another year – have been healthy reminders that it’s time to either get in gear and do the work or chuck it all into the recycling bin. The latter is too painful to even consider so I guess I’d best get my scheduling done and stick to it.

And you “to-do” list for when you get “a round tuit?” I’ll mail you a “Tuit” if it helps.