With less than a week to go before Christmas, it’s that time when the stress levels start to rise and every talk show and magazine focuses on how to survive the holiday family gatherings and office parties. It seems the media has taken a season of love and goodwill and turned it into a major trauma event that we all supposedly dread and must be medicated to get through.
So with tongues in our cheeks and some help from family and friends, Stretch and I decided to pass along some tips on how to deal with holiday stress.
First of all, we’d like to thank our British friend Sonia for the following tip she shared on Facebook:
I confess I can’t resist doing this. Okay, to be honest, I don’t even wait until the roll is empty. Joe will tell you that whenever we’re out shopping together and I buy a roll of wrapping paper, he knows he’s going to get gently bopped on the head with it at some point as we’re walking around. So maybe when you visit family you should bring along one of your empty rolls and keep it handy.
Along the same lines, the other day we also came across a reference to a British Christmas game called “Hot Cockles” that was popular 200 years ago. A child was blindfolded and then had to guess which of the other children hit him/her. It’s hard to imagine this was a popular parlor game even so many years ago. But hey, it might be helpful at a family gathering/office party when someone is whining or being obnoxious to think: “Hmm. What I wouldn’t give to grab a roll of wrapping paper and play Hot Cockles with him/her.”
(I said Wrapping Paper, Stretch!)
Stretch says his friend Paul gave him another good idea with a story he told us about the Legend of the Christmas Spider. The legend says some spiders were delighted to find a real tree sitting inside the house they were living in, and they climbed into the branches and spun webs. When Santa arrived, he saw the happy spiders but also realized what the family’s reaction would be to all these webs covering their tree, so he did some magic and turned the webs into sparkly silver—and that was the origin of tinsel.
Stretch says it made him think of the spider exhibit he saw at the American Museum of Natural History this year, and how some of the spiders might make a great ornament gift for certain people.
My cousin Mindy also passed along this gift idea: you know that very popular “Elf on a Shelf” fad that’s all the rage now? She reports that she’s discovered if you put two of these elves together, mayhem results along the lines of “don’t feed the gremlins after midnight.”
So there you have it! Several gift ideas and meditative thoughts to deal with the difficult people in your life this holiday season. And now that you’ve hopefully had a laugh, we’d like to end this blog with a toast to all our truly wonderful caring family and friends. We may bop you on the head with an empty (or full) wrapping paper roll if you happen to be close by at an opportune moment, but rest assured we love you and are very thankful to have you in our lives.
Stretch recently made a new friend, Jane, who provided just the perfect Christmas drink for our toast. It’s a German red wine heated in a pot with cinnamon stick, sugar and an optional orange peel and it’s called “Gluhwein” (literally “glow wine”).
Jane says she learned about this wine from her sister’s friend—and both her sister and her friend are nuns, so that makes this even more special at this time of year. They say the Gluhwein helps a person stay warm and avoid bad moods. So let’s make some Gluhwein and celebrate the special people in our lives while we’re imagining all these naughty ways to deal with holiday stress!