Hissy Fit - November 2023 - A Holiday Survival Guide: For the Heart and Soul

...because everyone needs one every once in awhile


November 2023 Issue
by Elizabeth Skenes Millen


Is it possible the most wonderful time of the year is here already?
It’s true; the hurry-days—I mean holidays—are here, and let me be amongst
the first to ask if you’re ready—such a silly question we greet each other
with during this time of the year.

What happens if you’re not ready? Are they asking if I have bought the turkey, cleaned the house, decorated inside and out, (first for Thanksgiving and then a quick turnover to Christmas), mailed Christmas cards, collected Christmas lists, made my own list, gift shopped, grocery shopped, wrapped (with bows), cooked and baked and am I just sitting around with the only thing to do is open the door dujour on the Advent calendar? Of course, I’m not ready. And If you knew me, you wouldn’t even have to ask.

Another thing I think the question refers to: Are you ready to spend time with relatives—your own relatives, to be exact?

I think the only people who ask “Are you ready” are either the ultra-organized, or the ultra-unorganized—both of which seem to relish in their status. I, like most, fall somewhere in the middle and can attest to being ready for some of it and struggling with the rest. Even though I’m 50-something years into this holiday thing, I still have to mentally prepare because the holidays can be tough. As such, I have put together a holiday survival guide for the infinitely weary, overwhelmed and overworked, which are conditions almost every person on the planet is subject to at any given moment.

1. You Don’t have to Go:
Our culture has become a busy one, though most of it is self-imposed. People are not comfortable staying home anymore. Weekends roll around and there are kids sports, dining out, shopping, going to the beach, laundry, cleaning, and once all this is done, the “what are we going to do” question remains if a few hours are unbooked. Perhaps our dialogue should change to “Look what we just did!” That would definitely shift our go-go-go mentality into a lower gear.

In case you need it, you have permission to stay home and do nothing. You don’t have to go, and you don’t have to feel guilty about not going. Reclaim some down time and give it some cushion—like on the sofa and just relax. Remember, we are human beings, not human goings, or human doings. This holiday season allow yourself moments—even hours—to just be. Take it all in. This practice alone will shift your perspective from hustle and bustle to joy and gratitude—two things that make life boundlessly better.

2. Stop Being Critical:
If you are ready to level up and change your life completely, quit being so critical. What is the big draw about putting others down—even behind their back? Is it a natural instinct? Was it born as part of the survival of the fittest program? Or is it a learned, nasty mean girl habit? Sometimes, why we do something isn’t near as important as being aware that we do it. It is only in full consciousness that we can make an effort to stop. It doesn’t take a brilliant brain to criticize, and my guess is criticizing is the result of two things: 1. Feelings of inferiority; and 2. A bad habit. The cool thing about this equation is when you break the bad habit, your feelings of inferiority will naturally subside. You are the low one when you put others down. As it turns out, being complimentary makes you a rock star.

This holiday season refrain from telling a hostess how gorgeous her home is and how delicious the dinner was only to get in the car and start tearing her down. Here’s how: 1. Catch yourself being critical. 2. Stop it. 3. Replace the negative thought with something kind. 4. Notice a sense of peace that instantly lifts your spirit. 5. Repeat this exercise every time you are critical. This is a life changing practice. Not only can you do it, but you will also love living this way!

3. Don’t Let other’s Actions Dictate Yours:
This one is hard, but it’s a major stress buster, and it’s all about remaining true to who you are. If there is a person or persons that you know is going to give you a hard time, or rub you the wrong way, all you need is a plan of action. That’s right, think it through before it happens. This is not your first showdown, so you know what to expect. Don’t think they have changed since last year; they haven’t. Go in knowing confrontation is coming. Hasn’t it always? The ultimate goal is to not allow this person to coax you into their boxing ring. If you go there, you then have to put on your gloves and fight within their parameters. Steer clear of that! This makes us respond by doing to them exactly what they do to us. Do you really want to act or be like them? No. You don’t. Let them be as ugly as they want. Stay steadfast in who you are. Whether you are kind, gentle, fun, hilarious, generous, compassionate or all of these things, honor your best traits regardless of what others say and how they behave. When you stay kind, you hold ALL the power. Let them be them, and you be you. (Note: If you are the one causing the conflict, just stop. For God’s sake, you’re a grown-ass woman.)

Well, I didn’t tell you how to get everything done, or give you any lifesaving shortcuts, but perhaps these survival guide tips will free you up—both heart and soul—to soak in the joy of what truly can be the most wonderful time of the year.