Thoughts on the Holidays

December 23, 2012

6a0115711b8d26970b017d3eec0c44970c-800wiMy inbox is finally not stuffed with offers trying to entice me to order anything else to put under my (non-existent) Xmas tree…probably because unless it’s an e-card, it’s absolutely too late to get anything shipped here before the big day. Oh well! There’s always a brick and mortar store…

I thought as the year is winding down it would be nice to share some of my thoughts on what makes the holiday season nice and special — of course there’s the expanded time with family and friends, the extra days off from work and school, and the endless supply of sweet treats that seem to be lurking around every kitchen counter and office cubicle, but here are some more ideas for what remains of this year, or the year to come:

Start a Tradition: Every year, we meet up with another family one Saturday in December and we see the tree in Rockefeller Center and then we have lunch at Virgil’s, a barbecue restaurant in Times Square. We have been doing it at least for 5 years and it’s funny because it may seem so simple, but we all genuinely look forward to it. My friend and I contact each other in early November and we block out the Saturday early on, so it can’t be messed with. With everyone leading such busy lives, it’s nice to know that we’ll get to see each other and spend a good solid few hours together, catching up. Another friend and I take a day off together every year and go to the Short Hills Mall to bang out our holiday shopping. We get to spend the day together and be super productive, which, as my friend says, is the best kind of day! (Especially for 2 working moms!) The idea behind creating a tradition isn’t that it has to be some grandiose plan, just that you have constants that you can look forward to.

Bon Bons are a Big Hit: We went to a big holiday soiree last night and we were commenting that it’s funny because at this party, everyone really eats the food. There are some parties where it’s a bowl of chips and some salsa that never get touched, but this party features shrimp, dumplings, carmelized bacon, stuffed cherry peppers, sesame chicken skewers…and on and on, all home made by the hostess. And then the desserts come out! And while there are all kinds of cookies, cakes, brownies and candies, do you know what went in a red hot minute? Huge ice cream bon bons. They were not easy to eat with your hands, they were messy and inelegant, but no one seemed to care. My husband ate his chocolate covered caramel one and then came in to eat half of my peppermint one. They were cold, sweet and delicious — and apparently everyone else thought so, too, given how quickly they disappeared. So maybe for your next party forget about the fancy desserts and go for some bon bons. (By the way I woke up this morning and had on the Today show and Lester Holt was making bon bons, so clearly I am onto something!!)

Say Thank You: I was chatting with a colleague this weekend about how much of our own money we spend on holiday gifts for our employees, and how much time it takes to shop for each of them. And then he said to me, in disgust and disbelief, “And some of them don’t even say thank you!” And I had to laugh, because I had just been complaining to my husband that some of the employees I gave gifts to didn’t even say thanks. So people do notice, and it does not reflect well, trust me. Whether it’s in a work setting or in your personal life, even if you don’t write a note, say thanks. And I mean after you open it. Tell them something specific about the gift so people don’t feel like they wasted time, money and effort on you.

Remember Those Less Fortunate: This has been a tough year for an awful lot of people. Personally, we have had to lay out money for Hurricane Sandy damage that we (obviously) couldn’t plan for. But I am digging deeper and giving to the charities that we always give to annually, because the truth is there are always others less fortunate than you. And even if you can’t write a check, volunteer for an afternoon, or make a snowflake and send it to the new school that the Sandy Hook survivors will be attending. (Click here for where to send them.) Many small gestures add up.

Just Relax: With all the running around to shop for gifts, attending parties, mailing cards and doling out tips, you need a pause before the new year starts up again. Give yourself permission to take a nap. Read a book. See a movie. (I liked Skyfall and Argo and I want to see Silver Linings Playbook and Lincoln.) Swap kids with a friend to give each other a few hours of peace and quiet without the expense of a babysitter. Walk to get coffee, slowly, and really enjoy the scenery, not to mention the coffee.

Because before you know it, 2013 will be kicking your ass.

Happy Holidays Everyone and Thanks So Much for Reading Family Favs!!!

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