The holidays can be a stressful time, even for those not working in the ski industry. Around here, we call it Season’s Beatings, because the next two weeks can make or break the season for us. We need to play our A game, even when the weather doesn’t cooperate. The holidays are a time of increased expectations. All of us, whether ski industry people or those blessed with actual time off to enjoy with family, must thread the needle of December stress. Here’s a few of my tips for making the most of it:
1) Prioritize: Let’s face it. You aren’t Martha Stewart, and no one expects you to handcraft the garland this year. Spend your energy on family and friends, not the perfect centerpiece.
2) Give experiences, not stuff: The weight of our nation’s economic future does not rest on your shoulders. Retailers will not cease to exist if you choose not to max out your credit cards this season. While I enjoy giving a few gifts to loved ones, I’m not a big fan of the stress and price of Santa-like giving. My family long ago decided to let down the pretense. Shopping for others is not a blissful, frolicking activity, but rather a ticking-items-off-your-list kind of pain in the neck. Instead, spend that money on a shared experience. Go out to dinner with your friends rather than buying them a gift basket full of overpriced nuts and chocolate covered berries. Take your kids skiing. Buy a plane ticket for you and your wife.
3) Ask for help: If you’re gracious enough to host a big family dinner this season, don’t go it alone. You’re providing the venue, let others bring the dessert.
4) Seek gratitude: Remember what the holidays are supposed to be: a reminder to be grateful for family, friends and health. Gratitude increases happiness. Seek out ways to be grateful, whether keeping a 12 Days of Gratitude journal or simply declaring your thankfulness at the dinner table. Find at least one thing every day to be thankful for this season.
5) Get outside: Whether ice skating, skiing or going for a hike in the temperate rainforest we call Seattle, go outside and breathe. It’s all too easy to miss the few hours of winter daylight around here. In the mountains, above the tall trees of the lowlands, it’s even easier to get your daily dose of Vitamin D. Better yet, go outside with others. Nothing is more calming than fresh air.
6) Remember your triumphs: When thinking about awkward family obligations, don’t harbor past failures. Instead, remind yourself that you got through that weird family dinner last year, you can get through it this year. Sometimes it’s more important to get along that to be right. Let slip the small stuff.
7) Break it down into smaller increments: Don’t try to conquer it all right now. Tell yourself to enjoy/endure it just 15 minutes at a time. Whether you’re skiing powder, worrying that in a few short hours your presence is required at Aunt Mildred’s or listening to your sister’s admonitions that you spend far too much time in selfish pursuit of your own dreams, break it down into small increments of time. Enjoy the powder (or more likely groomer, this season) and deal with Aunt Mildred later. Conversely, give your sister her due, knowing that your dreams will patiently wait.
The holidays can be a wonderful time spent with those you love. Strip away the external expectations and claim these next two weeks for yourself. Just remember to get through it 15 minutes at a time.