I’d like to share a few experiences with you that I had in the last few days. As I was driving in my car to do some holiday shopping, throughout the day I was constantly plagued by drivers who insisted on driving so close to the rear end of my car that our cars should have been on a first-name basis. Of course, the thing that really scares me about this is that if I had had to stop suddenly, they would have rammed into the back of my car, doing who-knows-what damage to me, them and our cars. (This is why I always leave a nice buffer between me and any vehicle in front of me. But that’s another story.)
So eventually, in each instance, these cars that were tailgating me finally saw their chance to pass me, which they did with much flourish and speed (and in the past, sometimes a significant hand gesture). All I could think of is “What’s the hurry?” It’s not as though I’d been driving below the speed limit. In fact, sometimes I was actually (shhhhh) driving a few miles above it. But these people were REALLY in a hurry, and they wanted me to know that I was in their way.
I realize this type of behavior happens all year round, but it seems to be the worst during the holidays.
Now, let’s go back a few more days to Black Friday. My husband and I had decided to brave Black Friday just for kicks. (It was HIS idea, really, but I went along with it. I know, what a strange sense of fun we must have.) Anyway, I walked into a local department store chain while my husband drove around the fully-packed parking lot, looking for a parking space that was closer than 100 miles away. As I made my way through the store, I noticed the incredibly long line that snaked around the entire perimeter of the store. This is no mom and pop store we’re talking about – it’s a big one. What was even more amazing was the happy, even jolly mood that everyone in line seemed to be in. I didn’t hear one bit of grumbling.
Now, this was the time when I most expected to hear all kinds of complaining going on about long lines, not enough cashiers, and so on. But everyone seemed to be on his or her best behavior. I wondered why. Maybe it was because they already knew what to expect, so they weren’t let down by the reality. I don’t know. But what I do know is that there was a huge contrast between the shoppers’ behaviors and the drivers’ behaviors, which really helped me come up with my Lucky 7 Tips for surviving the holiday scene.
- SLOW DOWN. When you drive too fast, and tailgate the cars in front of you, you’re endangering my life, your life, and everyone around you. Is it worth the risk just to get to your destination a few minutes ahead of everyone else?
- KEEP IT REAL. Come on, you know that you’re going to have to wait in interminable lines, or you’ll be on hold for a while if you call in a phone order. And it will take forever to find a parking space. So go with that flow, and don’t sweat what really is the small stuff. And if you are trying to squeeze in some shopping on a half hour break, it might be time to re-think that strategy. It’s most likely doomed.
- ENJOY THE MOMENT. Sure, I know that you want to get your holiday shopping done as quickly as possible, but if you just relax and be in the moment, you might actually enjoy a friendly conversation or two with a fellow shopper. It helps pass the time.
- JUST SAY NO. The holidays are built-in pressure cookers for a lot of people. You might be juggling last-minute work responsibilities before your holiday break, or trying to plan a holiday meal for 20. Whatever it is, be realistic about your limits and don’t be afraid to say “I’m sorry, not this time”.
- TAKE A TIME OUT. No, not because you’ve been bad. Because you need it. Holiday stress is a given for so many people, so make sure that you actually plan breaks for yourself where you can just breathe, drink a cup of tea (or a glass of wine), listen to some relaxing music, and let your body and soul regenerate.
- GET SOME SLEEP. Speaking of regenerating, sleep is the time when your body does it best. It’s easy to get caught up in the “have to’s”, and before you know it, it’s 2am and you have to be up in 4 hours. You’ll not only feel better, but do everything better, if you get your ZZZZZ’s.
- MODERATION, MODERATION, MODERATION. One of my father’s favorite phrases was “everything in moderation”. It’s true. It’s so easy to do everything in excess during the holidays, and we often feel lousy afterwards (physically, emotionally, and financially). So when you eat, if you slow down to really enjoy your food, you’ll find that you may not eat as much. If you slow down and savor each sip of wine or whatever your alcoholic choice of beverage may be, that might just pre-empt that holiday hangover the next day. And my one final thought on moderation is with regard to gift giving. More is not better. Try to make your gifts thoughtful, not excessive. Appreciate the quality, not the quantity. And when it comes to gifts for kids, consider the message that you’re sending by heaping huge volumes of gifts on them. What expectations does that set up? And where does it end?
So please, take a deep breath, and take good care of yourself so you can enjoy time with family and friends this holiday season.
P.S. If you have some other tips to share, please share your thoughts below. We’d love to hear ’em!