Dec. 22: Stuff the turkey, not yourself

The holidays are full of stress. It’s not just Christmas. I have heard from Jewish and Muslim friends that the need to make everything just so crosses all kinds of cultures and religious celebrations.

With the pandemic, many cities and countries are recommending the cancellation of office parties and the avoidance of large gatherings. Even family celebrations are supposed to be low key. But the pressure to overindulge — be it with food, drink, or even highly stimulating environments — is often present and a source of stress.

Leaving aside my omnivorous metaphor in the headline, if you are trying to maintain an even keel, too much of any thing will not go well for you.

It is okay to say no. When my child was small, we only did one thing per day over the holidays. We said thank you, wished them well, and said “maybe another time.” Once my child was old enough not to get overstimulated, I found I still enjoyed the one activity per day rule.

It’s okay to let go. Last year, with kitchen renos, sewer collapses, and annoying illnesses taking over my plans for my annual elegant Christmas Eve dinner, I created a sandwich buffet instead. It was fine, it was different, and it was fun.

You don’t owe anyone an explanation. Whatever your reasons for declining a beverage, a food, or an event, you don’t have to explain, give a reason, or ease someone else’s curiosity. You could just say, “not now, thank you; maybe later.” Or try EB White’s favourite exit: “I decline for secret reasons.”

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