Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Simplify Your Holidays

This is the season for everyone to write about how to survive the holidays. I have some input on that topic as someone trying to survive the holidays while coping with pain, fatigue, etc. My main strategy is to spread things out. This involves two aspects: one is to delegate, ie, spread things out among several people. The way my family does holidays, the hostess decides on the menu, then gives out assignments. The other aspect of spreading things out is to start way ahead of time, and not do too much in any single day/spree.
For Thanksgiving last week, we had our gathering at our apartment on Saturday, because our son couldn't get home until Friday. My husband did the turkey, that is his area of expertise, cooking-wise. My sister brought the sweet potatoes and pies, my brother brought the salad. I made the cranberry relish and dressing (using gluten free bread). We had a simple appetizer of chips and salsa.
I was off work last week, so I did house cleaning tasks each day early in the week. Wednesday I toasted and broke up the bread for the dressing. Thursday I made the cranberry relish, so my husband and I could have some for our 'mini Thanksgiving feast'. Friday I made the dressing, then cooked it Saturday morning in a slow cooker.Most of my tasks were done before the day the family gathered, so I was able to relax and enjoy the company and the feast without too much fatigue or having to rush around.
I simplified the holiday in several ways. I served a no-fuss appetizer. The menu was elaborate enough to feel like a feast, without excess: we don't need three kinds of vegetables and two kinds of potatoes. I organized my time so that I had enough energy to enjoy the holiday.
My son and his girlfriend set the table, brought in chairs, carried in the food, etc. My brother and his girlfriend did alot of the table clearing and cleanup. I made sure that before everyone left, the table was shrunk back to its everyday size, the extra table leaves, pads and chairs were put away, and the table cloth was in the laundry room ready to be washed.
Thanksgiving is over here in the US, but many of us have holidays to celebrate in December as well.  I have given some examples above of ways to simplify and spread out the work, here are some other ideas. You don't have to cook from scratch. There are some good cake mixes, prepared cookie dough, and ready to heat and serve frozen foods, etc. Even better, many grocery stores now have fresh cooked food, and many restaurants have menu items you can pick up and serve at home. Some grocery stores have delivery service, as do some restaurants.  If you can afford it, hire someone to do the cooking, serving and cleaning up (before and after), or just part of those tasks. Buy presents online, many places will even wrap them, add a card, and deliver them to your recipients. Or, give money or store gift cards, along with a nice card.
Take care of yourself, and structure your holidays so that you enjoy them. What can you do to spread out your tasks and simplify?

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