The Anti-Stress Holiday Vow

Photo by ML Harris/Getty Images

A few years back I made, with my husband, perhaps my best new year’s resolution ever: that I would no longer say “I’m so tired.” Really, with three kids, constant Sisyphean house projects, a full-time job, and lots of self-generated internal anxiety (am I the only woman in the world who wakes up at 5:35 a.m. and cannot fall back asleep because she just realized that she forgot to check the water level in the Christmas tree stand before bed? Sad, pathetic, and possibly medicatable is all I have to say), I found myself saying “I’m so tired” to anyone who would listen. It had become my dumb little mantra, my fall-back status update, my cocktail party ice breaker. And it’s not exactly like I’m working in the salt mines here. I just don’t get in bed early enough because I am doing too many other mostly unimportant things, like staring at my iPad and debating whether to order something from One Kings Lane, or yelling at one of my kids to empty the dishwasher before I take away the car keys forever.

This resolution lasted for a good few months until I began to slip. But it did have long-term consequences—namely, I am now aware of saying “I’m so tired,” and aware of how only half-true that is. And I certainly say it less than I used to.

This year I have made a pre-new year’s resolution, one related to the entire holiday season. As of today, I am going to stop saying “I am so stressed,” at least until January 2nd. During the month of December, I probably do as much running around as the next girl, buying presents, planning family activities, finishing up work projects, baking cookies, decorating the house, etc., etc., etc. And, like lots of people I know, I persist in calling the holiday season “stressful.” Hello, people, we’re supposed to be having fun. Now, I am not advocating that we all just stop buying each other presents (tell that to a 5-year-old) and just sit at home, singing what we remember of Handel’s Messiah and counting our blessings. That is not realistic (at least not in my family), and doesn’t sound very joyous either. I’m just proposing that we (ok, I) stop thinking of holiday-related busyness as “stressful.” A few years back I had a boss who was always reminding us that “pressure is a privilege.” And so is running around like a lunatic in December, because it means you have friends to see, loved ones to remember, food to put on your table, a roof (decorated or not) over your head. Holiday pressure is a privilege, and this sort of stress is a blessing.

And so: cleansing breath. I am not tired, and I am not stressed. And if the Christmas tree could only begin to water itself, then I wouldn’t have a care in the world.