Spend less, do more and keep your expectations in check.
Oh, holiday season. You changed your name from Christmas—to be more inclusive—so that holiday stress, anxiety and exhaustion can be shared with adults and children everywhere. What a gift! Thank you so much!
Call it what you want, Festivus is stressful. When I was married, the pressure and the expectation inherent in this so-called “season of giving” actually felt like a lot of taking. The holiday season takes your patience. It takes your time. It takes your sleep and your money. Instead of loving the gifts they opened, my kids were more interested in an unending marathon of unwrapping. I was disappointed because I didn’t get the reaction I wanted from them—and when they had nothing else to unwrap, their disappointment set in, too. No one was happy! And they were surrounded by stuff they wanted!
Here’s the kicker. To add to the inevitable disappointment, my husband and I separated two Christmases ago. I try to think of it as one more, special, life-changing gift. Happy holiday kids!
So, this year, I have decided to remove all expectations of a perfect family gathering, and just go with what happens—just like it was any regular day that we get together.
I’m going to not expect an amazing gift from anyone because I don’t NEED anything; except perhaps a glass of wine, after I make our first family Christmas dinner ever at our new house this year.
I don’t want anything from the guy I’m dating, ‘cause you know what? The best gift he’s given me is not being crazy, needy or draining—which seems nearly impossible for anyone who has lived long enough to be in their 40s. Thanks for the gift! You won’t top it. Save your money.
I’m going to spend less and do more and expect average.
I’m going to rent ice skates and take the kids and the boyfriend and his kid to City Hall so we can wobble around with 200 other people on a worn-down rink. But the difference is, I won’t get angry if someone isn’t having an Instagram-filtered fabulous moment. We’ll pretend it’s like any other day. I’ll just keep skating until I blister (two laps), and I won’t force myself to do more to “get into the spirit.”
I’ll also head down to the Riverdale Park toboggan hill by myself, so I get to decide when I’ve had enough. My kids are old enough to get there—and pull their toboggans up the hill—on their own. My holiday gift to them will be TTC fare, independence, and a lower body work out. And if there’s no snow on the ground, I’ll still go. I don’t care because I have no expectations, so I won’t be disappointed.
The few gifts I buy will be from The Nook on the Danforth, just west of Woodbine—especially the crystal bracelets made by Abby Rosen—because I believe in supporting local businesses and I’m astounded by the glorious, creative treats made with such love and care. Do yourself a favour and skip a big-box store: support a passionate, talented Torontonian.
I’m not going to shop on Boxing Day because I believe in the goodness of people. And I know if I do shop on Boxing Day, I will be disappointed by people’s behaviour. And the prices of sales that are… what? You got it, disappointing for Boxing Day.
Oh, and New Year’s Eve? I’ll get some wine for me and my guy, some pop for the kids, and we’ll stay at home. At 10 pm, I’ll change the clock to midnight, we’ll count down to the New Year and be in bed by 10:30. That’s the best way to be well-rested and not too hungover or disappointed. Not a bad way to start a New Year!
About the Author
Erin Keaney is an actor, singer and comedian who has toured North America in hit shows including Crazy For You and the original US tour of Rent. She’s appeared on The Comedy Network, YTV, CTV and produces a live stand up show in Toronto called Time Out. Find her online at erinkeaney.com CommentsRead Bio Read Posts