When we retired, we thought, Aaaahh! FINALLY! No more rushing around, no more racing with the clock, no more feeling like we are meeting ourselves coming and going! We will be able to relax and do the things we want in a leisurely fashion now!
Well, I don’t know what we were thinking, because this time of year is still stressful. I guess it is kind of like when the kids were little and we thought it would be so much easier when they get older … and then the kids got older … and then we had pre-teens … and then we had teenagers … and … well “easier” is not how we would describe our parenting through the teen years! So this time of year still presents many challenges to get lots of things done in a timely manner.
I will admit it is easier to find an evening to enjoy a drive through our “Walkway of Lights”, and we are sometimes able to linger a little longer when shopping and enjoy the music and lighted displays. But there is still the pressure of planning and preparing special get-togethers and of course the cooking, shopping, wrapping, “who have we forgotten this year” drama. I am also notorious for picking up little stocking stuffer type of gifts, hiding them in a closet, and forgetting all about them till after everyone has gone home. Then I think, wait a minute, I never gave them thus and such! So my children have grown accustomed to getting belated Christmas gifts the next time we get together! Maybe we should just call it a family tradition at this point!
Actually, as long as we have the stamina to keep up, we really enjoy all the holiday frenzy. It’s just that the stamina runs out before the frenzy, and that’s where we have a problem. We remember when we were younger there was always the grandpa that fell asleep in his chair after dinner, and sometimes a grandma or aunt who would lie down for a “little rest” once the kitchen was cleaned up, and we thought “oh those poor OLD people.” But now we have to admit that catnapping and a “little rest” sound pretty inviting at times when the festivities are far from over. Surely, we are not becoming those “poor OLD people”!
As I have been chatting with my girlfriends, I find at least we are not alone in this. One thing we all seem to struggle with is saying “NO”. There are so many needs in our community, and having managed our finances through the years, we are truly blessed to be able to help provide gifts and food for those in need. But we are learning we cannot do everything. Learning our limitations allows us to participate in various charitable acts without sacrificing our sanity.
We are also scaling back on holiday decorating and plan this year to only get out our most cherished pieces, along with the tree. And perhaps it is time to give some of the decorations to those who could really use them. I have convinced my husband that the task of retrieving decorations from the basement and attic will be a smaller project because of this, and so I think I am making headway toward actually getting him to do it. Oh who am I kidding - it is still going to take a pie or two and some more nagging, but I know he will do it soon. I am also practicing weaving in more “sweet-talking” than nagging. Now I said I am practicing, I did not say I have gotten good at it, but I will let you know how this works out for me. We are trying some new things in retirement but it is too early to tell what will stick!
Another thing that I try not to stress about is baking tons of goodies. Many of the grocery stores have full service bakeries and I can order something special, or choose from the many items that are there. I have found them to be delicious. You see, we have sampled many of these products since retiring. I don’t know if it is because we have time to peruse all the items while in the store or because we have time to sit down and enjoy eating them or what. But I do know you do not want to believe the lie that you can actually sample all these things without consequences. Being retired does NOT remove the calories from these goodies. I am not sure where this notion comes from, but when a little voice is telling you “go ahead and try it, after all, you’re retired, you deserve it”, DO NOT LISTEN! The little voice is a liar!
I am learning to minimize gift-buying stress by shopping online and getting gift cards. We always ask all the children and grandchildren for wish lists as well. This seems to take the guesswork out of it, and everyone is getting something they really want. Speaking of gifts, once you buy them then you have to wrap them. I must confess that I am guilty of waiting till Christmas Eve to wrap. It’s horrible and stressful. So this year I am planning to follow my “Suzie Homemaker” friend, Marci’s tip to wrap as I buy. Of course Marci reminded me that for this to work it means I will have to make sure I have everything I need to do the wrapping. “Stock up on your wrapping supplies to ensure that you’re not rushing to the store for tape later”, she said. I did not have the nerve to tell her I have actually had to unwrap gifts to find out who it was for when I neglected to put the tags on as soon as a gift is wrapped. (That would never happen to Marci!)
Well, if I want to get the decorations up right after Thanksgiving, I had better get started on a pie and practice some “sweet-talking”, so perhaps this year we can put our decorations up “in a leisurely fashion” like some of the old ….er.. I mean “retired” people we know!