Season’s Greetings everyone,

I find it appropriate that I write this post on the day that the high maintenance little elf has guilted his or her way into your home. Yes, December has arrived.

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is upon us and it truly is my most favourite time of year. Snow kissed streets. Twinkling lights. Holiday cheer. Festive gatherings. Friends. Family. Conquering the gluttonous sugar mountain. However, what I’ve described is the highlight reel. The hope. It’s what we all want for our holiday season.

Unfortunately, this dream isn’t always the reality. And from where I sit, I witness the other side of December, the darker side. The heightened stress, the triggered grief and the financial burdens. I’m not sharing this to be the downer, to be the Grinch stealing the Spirit of Christmas. I’m sharing because I want to let you know that you are normal. Your struggle is real. That this time of year is hard. Because no matter the magic, the world continues to spin the same way it did prior to the holidays and it will continue to spin the same way after the holidays. I want you to know that you are not alone and I want to talk about it.

So, pour yourself a rum n’ nog or a peppermint tea and let’s go through my playlist for December.

1. Deck the halls…
…with boundaries and realistic expectations. Family. Friends. Christmas parties. New Years parties. The demands are at an all time high, as are the expectations. People, set some boundaries and if possible, plan in advance. Talk about your plans ahead of time, pick what time the turkey is being consumed and even set price limits on your gifts. So many tears happen over the holidays thanks to our good friends assumptions. Don’t get caught in the trap of wishing something into being. Why? Because that is the recipe for disaster. What time is dinner? When would you like us to arrive? What can I bring? What are we spending on gifts? Those are just a few examples of conversations that I encourage you to initiate. Actually, I beg you. Do it.

2. Carol of the Bells…
Pinterest can go to hell. Kidding. Well, not really. I think I’m just sending a whole lot of empathy to the households trying to do it all. Household traditions have been overruled by mainstream expectations. Not sure what I mean? Four words: Elf. On. The. Shelf. I don’t have children and I feel overwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, I love them– I love the photos and I love the excitement of the kiddos but I’m not sure how much more pressure a household can take. I’m not shaming the parents who truly do it all, I admire you. I love the magic you bring to your children. But I also want to acknowledge the effort and the planning and the stress. I also want to recognize that some people just don’t have the time, the money or the opportunities. And that’s okay too. What I’m really saying is we are all doing the best we can. Elf or no elf. Home made cookies or Oreos. You just do you and know that is enough. This leads into the next track.

3. What child is this?
Yours. Yet somehow the expectations of every other household is upon you. I’m going to step on my soap box for this one so please bear with me. I LOVE the man in red but Santa is an issue This magical man visits every household yet his budget varies so much. How is that possible? It’s not. So parents are over spending to ensure that their little Emma can keep up with little Asher. Meanwhile net incomes vary by 10’s of thousands of dollars. In my perfect world, Santa has the same budget for every single household, stockings have oranges in the toe along cheap chocolates and the parents buy “the big gift”. Santa brings socks, maybe a book. Why? Because many children don’t understand income disparity. They’ve been taught that their gift is indicative of being good or bad. I know my rant can’t change what (in my opinion) is a structural flaw. But perhaps we can be more mindful how we approach gifts and giving with kids. Perhaps you’ll even buy into the next track.

4. All I want for Christmas is you.
Make presence the present. Give the gift of experiences. I still remember one of my favourite gifts as a child. It came in a card from my aunt and uncle and in it they wrote they would be taking me and my brother to a movie of our choice. I was elated and I could not wait to ditch my parents and cash this in. Kids have so many toys, give them the gift of time, quality time. Do something with them. We all have so much stuff. Make memories.

5. Silent Nights…
‘Tis the season- to be overwhelmed. While so many are jingle bell rocking I’m over in the corner looking like death has become me, rattled with stress and stuffed as I have truly bit off more than I can chew. My career coach and one of the most badasss women I know (Sarah Vermunt with Careergasm) recently wrote a post that I desperately needed to read. I thanked her for giving me a spiritual Heimlich for all that I was chewing. She gave me my mantra for December. Ready for it? Rest like a motherfucker.

6. Grandma got ran over by a reindeer…
Because the driver had too much to drink. DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE. Plan a safe ride home. Cab. Walk. Stay in. But do not and I repeat DO NOT drink and drive. For those of you (us) planning to indulge over the season, take the decision out of the game. If you’re having a drink, just cab to your event. Don’t drive and see where the night takes you. As the night often takes you down poor decision street. If you have the money to spend at the bar, you have the money for a cab. I accept zero excuses or rebuttles. You cannot justify to me how you had the money to drink too much at your Christmas party but not to pay for a safe ride home. As an employer, if you have the money to open up the bar, you have the money to pay for your employee’s cab ride home. Zero tolerance.

7. Joy to the world…
Choose love. Give love. Be love. If you can only give one thing this season, give kindness. The world needs more of it. Whether your act of kindness is planned or random, it makes a difference. To all of you in the human service sector, I’m thinking of you. Not only will I do my part to exercise kindness and patience, I’m also going to do my part in giving the gift of presence. Say please. Say thank you. And please put the damn cell phone away in the checkout line.

Feliz Navidad,
Lise