I had a voice message this morning from my 85-year-old mother. Her voice was distressed and weak. The message was about Christmas gifts she had not gotten around to buying yet. “Could you please pick something up for your kids, and also something for each of Peter’s kids? (heavy sigh) I just haven’t been able to get to it, and I don’t know what to get.”
When I called her back, we talked for a few minutes and I assured her that it is not necessary to get gifts for everyone, especially if it causes her to feel so stressed that her stomach hurts and she feels weak. After talking a little more, I realized that part of the issue for her is the loss of a way of life. The traditions of her earlier years are simply too physically demanding to continue, and that saddens her – and it saddens me to hear her so distressed when I want her to enjoy the holidays.
Now, if I can take my own advice – “Let go of time-consuming tasks that aren’t necessary and don’t add pleasure to life.” – I will have a low-stress, enjoyable holiday too. I am working on it.
I have modified my traditions a little. There will be no “Grandma cakes” this year, unless my daughter wants to spend time baking with me. I would much rather spend time doing whatever with her while she is home for just 5 days. If we end up producing some cakes in the process, that’s great; I love traditions. If not, my holiday experience will not be less enjoyable.
Those of you who have been following my blog for a while probably have at least begun to understand my purpose in writing about topics like this one. For those of you who are new to my site, I will directly make my point. Everything in your life can affect your eating, because everything in your life affects your perceptions of the world and your sense of contentment and peace. Reducing unnecessary stress will have ripple effects on your life as a whole – and eating in particular, if that is one of your coping mechanisms.
Note: We ended up baking for hours today and had a great time doing it. I have concluded that the key to keeping the “fun” in optional activities is to keep them optional. Then they can actually be fun, instead of turning into just more work. As I said, I’m working on it.