When my dad was a kid, he and his brother got these barber-pole sized peppermint candy canes in their Christmas stockings. Being boys, and being presented with more candy than they probably saw all year—because it was the olden days, when he had to walk to school in a snowstorm, uphill both ways—they each ate the whole thing in one sitting.
Dad was never so sick. And you know what you got for an upset stomach Back In the Day?
For the rest of his 69 years, Dad would not touch peppermint flavored anything. But just the sight of Pepto-Bismol pink would turn him green.
Christmas can be like that. So here’s what to do when Santa, or Christmas in general, makes you sick!
What To Do When Santa Makes You Sick…
I’m not just talking about binging on chocolate, or tying one on at the office Christmas party and giving your co-workers blackmail material for the next year.
There are eight episodes of Holiday Baking Championship on my DVR right now. I have more party invitations than my introvert soul can handle. There’s fir and tinsel everywhere, and the Hallmark Channel has been running “A Daddy for Christmas” every night since Thanksgiving.
The holidays are just so jam-packed with holiday-ness. Americans don’t do anything by halves, and that includes cramming 11 months of tinsel, snowmen, and good will toward people-kind into 30 days.
Here’s some things you can do when you start to feel sick of Santa (or even if you start off a little scroogish).
- Take a holiday from the holiday. It’s amazing how much one afternoon of quiet can reset your tolerance levels. Turn off the TV and radio. Take an email break. Go to a city park or a drive out of town. Unplugging now and then is a good practice year round, but especially when the holiday noise is dialed up to eleven and amplified by the pressure to Be Cheerful, Dammit.
- Spread it out. A crescendo is much more pleasant than trying to maintain fortissimo festivity for a month. Next year, think about an advent calendar, even if you aren’t religious. (You can call it a countdown to Christmas.) With each week you can add another holiday element: start playing holiday music on Day 1, put up the tree on Day 10, and so on. Life doesn’t have to be Santa 24/7 for all 28 days.
- Change it up. When you’re baking your Christmas cookies, add one that’s traditional in Russia, or Greece. Make a Buche de Noel. Instead of putting up stockings, put out your shoes like in the Netherlands. Research Christmas traditions from around the world with your kids. Adding one new thing can make everything seem fresh.
- Change it up, part two. If you need a break from Oh Christmas Tree, why not teach your kids what a dreidel is, and then you can have that song stuck in your head. Sure it’s nice to remember there are other holidays besides Christmas, but there are side benefits. Google sufganiyot—you will never settle for fruitcake again.
- Speaking of discovery… Hanukkah starts on the evening of December 24 this year and ends the evening of January 1. Kwanzaa goes for seven days starting on December 26th. Ramadan, with its Eid feast at the end of a month of fasting, moves around. It’s in the summer in 2017, but talking about holiday traditions is a natural and positive way to discuss diversity with your kids. While there’s an abundance of goodwill in the air it’s the perfect time to talk with your kids about respect for other colors, cultures, and creeds.
- Look inward, angel. Our focus is turned outward during the busy holidays. We should always be so generous, but face it—as a culture we’re making up for a year of “What can you do for me.” We’re also very caught up in the physical–food, sweets, gifts, hugs, conversations, shopping, music, decorations. Give yourself a gift and turn your focus inward for a bit. Meditate. Pray. Go on a silent retreat or just shut up for a day. Do whatever it takes to turn down the noise inside your head. Focus on your spirit—whatever that means to you—clear your mental cache, and refresh yourself for another night of “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree.”
Maybe it all comes back to turning down the background noise of The Christmas Season (TM) and refocusing on the common theme that runs through all celebrations this time of year—that whether it’s a star, or eight candles, or a yule log, there is a light of hope in the longest, darkest nights of winter.
The blinking lights and singing snowmen have an off-switch. They’re cheerful and fun, but we can still take a moment for quiet, to look for that winter light in ourselves and others.
Peace on Earth, after all, will never get old.