Yesterday as I was walking by The Plaza Hotel, I stopped to watch some of the hotel staff as they gently began draping the hotel’s majestic facades with giant pine garlands sprinkled with tiny red glittery plastic fruits and shiny golden bows in preparation for the impending holidays. As I stood there in my wool jacket, the sounds of the silver bells of the Salvation Army collection buckets ringing in the distance, I was suddenly filled with the Christmas Spirit. However half a block later that holiday bliss was followed by an overwhelming sense of panic, after it hit me that next week, NEXT WEEK, the holidays would be in full swing. Suddenly I felt overwhelmed with all of the things I wanted, no NEEDED to get done; I needed to buy new decorations, find and unwrap the decorations I packed away last year, make sugar cookies, bake a pumpkin pie, figure out what I was going to bring for Thanksgiving next week, buy tickets to see the Radio City Rockets, start testing new holiday drink recipes, remember to make it to the parade next Thursday, remember to make it to the balloon blowing up the night before, try and squeeze in a few winter crafts I had been putting off but bought the supplies for even though I had still not carved one of the pumpkins I had brought home from Halloween, buy presents for everyone and AHHHHHH!! My mind was racing, my palms started to sweat and suddenly I could hardly breathe. As I stood there, on 59th street and 5th Avenue I realized I was in the middle of a full blown anxiety attack, all brought on by a Christmas garland.
It was in that moment that I realized that I had let my obsession with keeping up with holiday traditions get out of control, WAY out of control. When did the joyful traditions of my youth turn into obligations? How did baking cookies and putting up Christmas lights suddenly become sources of stress rather then enjoyment? For being a person who “loved the holidays” I realized that in the process of trying to make each holiday “perfect”, I was missing the point of them all together. That’s right, this city dwellers Santa Sleigh was leaking Christmas Spirit all over town, and not in a good way. So I thought I would take a moment before the holiday season officially begins next week, to remind all of my loyal readers out there to make sure to slow down this year and allow yourself to actually enjoy the holidays. Sometimes I think we get so lost in all of the activities, the things we think we are supposed to do to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, that we end up just going through the motions and missing out completely on what the holidays are really about. When we look back on the holiday’s of yesteryear its not the gifts or the how well the pie tasted that we remember the most, it’s the laughter, the stories, that warm safe feeling you get when you are surrounded by the one’s you love the most. Sure it will be great if you make the perfect turkey or find just the right present for every person on your Christmas list but even if you don’t, so what? Thanksgiving dinner will still go on, Christmas morning will still be joyful and if you must obsess about it, you can always try again next year.