As soon as Halloween ends we are reminded that Christmas is creeping its way back into our lives. It always seems to arrive much too soon, doesn’t it? The month of November quickly feels as if it’s defined by December.
I’m not a huge fan of the holiday season. When I was 19, I worked in a grocery store. I’m pretty sure my relative disdain for the season started while working a cash register between aisles of Santa-shaped chocolates and overpriced eggnog. I tolerated the crowds of people who purchased produce and cookies and I smiled, my irritation level peaking each time I was asked if the store sold organic carrots.
The customer, after all, is always right.
But the dreadful repetition of Christmas music drove me to surrender my apron midway through December.
My experience aside, many people look forward to the holiday season. We relish cherished time with family and with friends, fantastic food, time off from work and the giving and receiving of gifts. It’s a time when children smile and shake the gifts under the tree. Pretty great, right?
I hate be somber, but these things often lead to a holiday hangover. Unfortunately, twelve glasses of water, an aspirin and time in bed won’t cut it.
So here are some tips — sarcasm included! — to get back on track:
- Ban Christmas music. Hide Christmas CDs in a drawer and listen to something else. Frank Sinatra or Miles Davis, Metallica or Eminem, CNN or Howard Stern. Anything else.
- Do not look at your credit card bills for one week, or as long as possible. Buying gifts for those we care for is always fun (well, usually) but sometimes we get carried away. I’m not sure my mother needed two pairs of pajamas, matching slippers, a bathrobe and three types of exfoliating body wash.
- Take a couple of days to unwind. My family always has half the neighborhood over Christmas Eve. People play guitar, my lovely mother sings Neil Young and halfway through the night I hide in the spare room. Time with family and friends is great, it’s healthy, but once the holidays are over we need some time to unwind. Read a book while wearing your pajamas, drinking tea and finishing off the chocolate and turkey.
- Leave the Christmas tree up. That’s right, leave it up, at least until the New Year. Often, amid the chaos of Christmas, we don’t really get a chance to enjoy it. You can skip this step if you own pets that have holiday fun eating the tree and everything on it. My cat has a penchant for candy canes and my dog enjoys eating the artificial branches, lights and all.
- Pick a day to do some holiday cleaning. This is similar to spring cleaning but involves shiny paper, bits and pieces of tinsel, leftover food and sometimes relatives who are staying a bit longer than planned.
- Gear up to get back to work. Whether you are going back to work before the New Year or after, it’s important to get back into the swing of things. Holidays are a disruption to our schedule: our sleep pattern changes, as does our level of socialization and our eating habits. Ease yourself back into life.
- Exercise. Exercise not with the goal of losing the weight gained from boxes of chocolate and gravy (save that for New Year’s if you must) but because we often exercise less during the holiday season. Exercise helps to regulate our lives and schedule.
- Secretly organize and consider ‘re-gifting.’ This is optional (and perhaps in bad taste?). Gather the gifts that you may already own or just don’t like. Mentally thank the person — this eradicates possible guilt — that presented them to you. Place them in your closet and next year give them to someone else.
- After New Year’s take some time to reflect on your life. New Year’s Eve is sort of like the icing on an overly-decorated cake. Right when we start to get back into the swing of things, New Year’s kicks our lives back into high gear. Whether you celebrated it quietly, or celebrated it in large company, spend the time following reflecting on the year and the year ahead.
When all is said and done, the New Year having passed and the tree having been packed away, it’s time to get back to life. Like any bad hangover, give it some time: life moves on. Enjoy it. Relish in the ‘normal’ parts of life — before Halloween reminds you that the holiday season is right around the corner.
Sarcasm aside, try a few of these out and if all else fails, well, try a long nap and aspirin.