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Friday, December 25, 2009

Simplification and The Holiday Blues

Caution: Consult a medical professional if you have major depression, a potentially dangerous condition that requires correct diagnosis and treatment. Home remedies should only be used with medical approval. Also, check with your medical professional for prescription drug contraindications, and double check with your pharmacist to be extra sure.

From now until the new year I'm going to write about depression, focusing on a remedy per day. Today's post is about simplification and depression. And by depression, I do not mean major depression. I mean something more like the holiday blues.

As mentioned in previous posts on depression, overdoing it can lead to depression. So on this major holiday, prevent depression by keeping it simple. Visit one family for Thanksgiving, the other on Christmas, and switch next year. Minimize commotion by having just one person open a present at a time. This way each person can appreciate more fully what the others receive.

Bring in trash containers to hold the wrappings. Perhaps this could become part of your family's pre-Christmas ritual: preparing and decorating large paper grocery bags for use on the big day. Or just grab some bags and have each person--yes even little kids can do it--clean up as they unwrap.

Prepare for simplicity by having all gift givers focus on fewer, larger presents instead of numerous smaller ones. If funds are limited, pool resources or draw names and each person only gives a present to the person they have drawn, with a dollar limit placed on the purchase.

Another way to simplify gift giving is giving gifts of service, either through an organization such as SEVA, or personal gifts of service such as a coupon for a free massage, fixing dinner, washing the dog, whatever would be a treat for the recipient. Kids can make and give coupon books for free hugs and/or whatever chores they can do.

Have as much of the holiday meal prepared the day before as possible. Make a list and keep it for upcoming years so you don't have to think it all up again every time. Purchase premade food items if you have a good source and can afford it.

If you have small children, chances are you were you didn't get enough sleep. Perhaps a gift from a friend or relative could be taking the kids out for a couple of hours so you can rest after the holiday meal. Another friend or relative might enjoy giving you a free meal cleanup after enjoying your holiday meal with you. If you make the request in advance, it can be done quite gracefully, and may give someone with limited resources a way to give you a very meaningful gift!

If you have no family and aren't invited to share someone else's holiday (or don't want to accept such invitations) consider serving the holiday meal at a soup kitchen. It's an opportunity to feel useful, be with others, and appreciate what you have.

Alternatively, if you have no family nearby, invite other single friends and relatives over for a Christmas potluck. If coordinating the food so everyone doesn't show up with apple pie or cranberry sauce is too stressful for you, ask one of the invitees to perform this task, or suggest a category for each guest: main dish, vegetable, bread, or dessert. You provide the beverage or the main dish and tableware.

There are many ways to simplify the holidays. I've talked about Christmas, but the same goes for New Year's Eve celebrations. Have a pot luck. You provide the fireworks or other entertainment and any decorations. Guests provide the food and perhaps even the cleanup. Asking for volunteers ahead of time is a good idea, both for preparations and cleanup, and can relieve you of excess activity that may lead to depression afterwards.

So keep it simple, and keep yourself happy!

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