Everything I ever needed to know about surviving the holidays I learned from bumper stickers.

This time of year you can’t help but come across all sorts of tips about surviving the holidays – whether that means keeping weight off, getting everything on your To Do list done, managing not to strangle various family members, or not going postal in the middle of your local shopping mall’s parking lot.

I could jump on the bandwagon and give you information about healthy holiday eating, organizing your wrapping paper, or coping with family stress. The thing is, I don’t generally eat healthily during the holidays, I’ve given up on being a good wrapper and now resort solely to gift bags, and I actually like and get along with my family, warts and all.

The fact of the matter is, everything I learned about surviving the holidays I learned from cheesy bumper stickers and inspirational tchotckies. Here are a few that may be helpful to you as well.

  • Keep It Simple Stupid – Martha Stewart may have made our lives more beautiful, but she certainly also made them more miserable. Remember when it was ok to have non-matching ornaments on the tree? And not grow your own herbs for your Thanksgiving stuffing? Sometimes Stovetop and a few dusty Hallmark ornaments work just as well as the fancy stuff.
  • Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (and it’s all small stuff) – This goes right along with K.I.S.S. above. If you keep it simple, there won’t be as much small stuff to sweat, and even if the big stuff falls apart, remembering that in the grand scheme of things it’s still small stuff can help you maintain your sanity.
  • The Best Things in Life Aren’t Things – My niece and nephew are the only kids in my family so they have a ton of grandparents and aunts and uncles purchasing things for them. My philosophy is to give them experiences instead of things. A sleepover weekend with Aunt Amy is way more memorable than whatever toy and gadget is en vogue at the moment. I also like to make things that don’t cost a lot of money, don’t take up too much time, and that I can give to multiple people. Last year, inspired by those little stick figures you see on people’s cars nowadays, I painted a stick figure family portrait for each side of the family. I made color copies and bought cheapo frames. Total cost was about $50 for my entire Christmas list and everyone loved them.
  • Stuff fades quickly, but debt goes on and on” – Mary Hunt – I found this quote as I was writing this post. It works perfectly with the theme and with what I just wrote above re: Best Things. Will you even remember what you gave people next year? Probably not, but if you’re still paying whatever it was off in August you’ll certainly wish you hadn’t.
  • A Job Worth Doing is Worth Doing Together – This sentiment is often superseded by “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” Sometimes all you have to do is ask and help is available, but you actually have to ask. Sometimes help is, yes, less than helpful. But you don’t have to do it all so spread some of the work around. My boyfriend won’t step foot in a store but if I asked him to search for the best gift deals on-line and get them purchased he’d be on that task as if it were an Xbox game. Sometimes you have to find the right tasks for the right people.
  • Never Put Off Until Tomorrow What You Can Do Today – Getting things done ahead of time can take a lot of stress off your shoulders…as long as you don’t fill up your “found” time with more stuff to do. Declare yourself done and stick to it. Your future self will thank you.
  • Never Put Off Until Tomorrow What You Can Avoid All Together –  Is it absolutely, positively necessary to make your own cranberry sauce? Wrap every gift in matching paper? When is good enough, good enough? Let it go and move on.
  • Time is Money – Unless you actually enjoy it, schlumping from store to store looking for the best deals on Black Friday or any other time during the holidays is probably not worth it. For one, you’re more likely to buy stuff you weren’t planning on. For another, you could save a lot of time and headaches by ordering on-line, even if you have it delivered to the store and have to go pick it up.
  • Fish and Visitors Smell in Three Days – Don’t be fishy. And have a strategy to get rid of your visitors sooner than later, possibly by having somewhere else to be yourself.
  • Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise – Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you should throw your normal schedule out the window. Staying up later to watch holiday specials, getting up early for shopping deals, and all that travel are going to wreak havoc on your body. Try to maintain a regular bedtime and a soothing evening routine so your body can recharge and be refreshed.
  • Move It or Lose It – One of the best ways to relieve stress is to exercise. It’s tough to squeeze in a workout but you will feel better and be more ready to tackle your projects if you’ve taken care of yourself. Don’t underestimate the power of endorphins or the benefit of taking your mind off all the tasks running through your head by or zoning out on the treadmill or a class. If you get enough workouts in, this phrase might turn into Move It AND Lose It.
  • If You Can’t Be Good, Be Careful – Let’s face it, there is only so much temptation a person can handle. I used to work in an office where, for the ENTIRE month of December,  someone was designated to bring in a goody. That meant there was some sort of treat available daily. Daily! Not coincidentally, this was followed by the January where I recorded my highest weight. I couldn’t always be good, but I did figure out that I could avoid the treats more often if I simply changed my route to the bathroom or other areas I needed to visit.  Going into this time of year armed with a strategy to at least try for moderation, if not abstinence, is a good idea. Forewarned is forearmed.

There you have it. A few simple cliches and proverbs to get you through the holidays.  Live long and prosper.


1 thought on “Everything I ever needed to know about surviving the holidays I learned from bumper stickers.”

  1. Good article, Ames. Glad to hear you like your family! 😉
    All of this is why I no longer put up a tree (the time spent putting up and taking it down would total more hours than we’d actually get to look at it), and rarely send xmas cards. (no one has seemed to notice, and I’ve never felt competitive about “look how many cards we got!”

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