Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Not So Great Expectations

Happy Holidays!

That's right, I said Happy Holidays. I hate to unearth collective heads in the sand, but Christmas is a mere 73 days away by my count. Holy Holly, Batman!

Unless you're anally organized, I think it's safe to say that most people (read: women) hit warp speed come December 1st. Suddenly we're all contestants on the Christmas edition of 'Beat the Clock'. Regular routines give way to holiday decorating, a whirl of parties, mall madness and late night power-baking. Even the most stalwart among us can fall victim to holiday battle-fatigue. So, what does this mean to those of us with less energy than a lump of coal? It means we she-elves (even the sluggish ones) are expected to deliver Christmas and all its trimmings in a sleigh that has no spark plugs. All of these expectations can leave even the most jolly among us with a Santa-sized headache.

Expectation: something that is expected and looked forward to. On the flip side, expectations can also come with unreasonable demands. We, as women, often place these demands on ourselves. I've coined a word that is applicable to fibro and chronic fatigue sufferers: thrivival. Definition: surviving and thriving during adverse, stressful experiences. It is not enough to merely survive during chaos. Survival is making it through adversity and coming out the other side. If you can come through with faith and hope while still experiencing inner happiness, baby, you're thriving! Let's strive to thrivive this holiday season.

Thriviving the holidays requires advance planning, lists and getting the ball rolling early. Like, now. Here is a list of my Top Ten Thrivival tips. I hope they can help ease the stress of the holiday bustle for you.

1. e-Shop. Shop online or from a catalogue whenever possible. Shipping and handling will raise the price tag, however, the real savings will be less wear and tear on yourself.

2. On a feel-good day, visit a holiday craft fair at a local community centre. Buy homemade jams, antipasto and spreads. While you're there, grab some homemade freezable baked goods too. Hey, no one said it had to be homemade by YOU. Browse around and you might find some unique, low-priced jewelry. Stocking stuffer prospects abound.

3. Christmas shopping should not be restricted to December. I keep my eyes open for potential Christmas goodies whenever I'm in the shops, any time of the year. Buy and tuck away in a safe location. Tip: don't stow away the gifts during a fibro fog. We all know how that will turn out!

4. Some grocery and drug stores carry a large variety of gift certificates. These can range from clothing, hardware and electronic store certificates to restaurants, spas and movie theatres. Take advantage of this convenience. It sure beats a trip to the actual store, long line-ups and parking lot nightmares.

5. Maybe it's time to stop sending Christmas cards. If you can't bring yourself to do this, start early and do a few at a time. It's mid-October and I've started mine. I figure if I can do one or two every day, I can avoid the usual onslaught in December.

6. Use gift bags and boxes wherever possible to avoid tedious fights with scotch-tape and ribbon. You'll be helping the environment as well as saving yourself from neck strain. A win-win situation.

7. Set a timer for active time and stick to it. Perhaps twenty minutes is all you can manage for Christmas activities. When the timer goes off, rest. Return to work only when you feel rested enough. You'll get to know your own rhythm. Pace yourself and take short naps when you need them.

8. Use a low-motivation day to sit quietly and make any necessary lists. Write down gift suggestions, people to buy for, food lists, etc. Put on some relaxing music or Christmas carols.

9. If you decide to brave the malls, avoid weekend shopping when they will be at their most crowded. Maybe a friend or relative can drive, sparing you the added traffic stress.

10. Above all, don't be afraid to ask for help and DELEGATE.

Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night.


  1. Hey Cathy
    Great post. Wonderful tips for everyone especially those of us who suffer from CFS and Fibro.
    I might also point out that using mailing labels for addressing and return addresses on Christmas card envelopes is a easy as pie too. I also use a sticker to seal the envelopes as well. I design my own card and print them with my own greeting and signature inside as well. It may be a bit more expensive but it is a time saver and still personal.

  2. Thanks Eileen. Yep, the mailing labels are great too - I use them as well. You're such a wonderful artist that I'm not surprised that you make your own cards. I'm afraid I'm not even that computer-literate yet to know how to print them out en masse. Do you use something like Print Shop?