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Holiday advice, part V

Posted by Robin Abrahams  December 14, 2012 03:50 PM

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And, the end! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season.

Don't Expect Perfection. Chances are good you won't have a sepia-toned Norman Rockwell fantasy of a Thanksgiving or a sparkling New Year's Eve party straight out of Noel Coward. Don't make yourself crazy about what your holiday isn't - try, instead, to appreciate what it is. And accept that there will be times when holiday preparations will be stressful and that some of the time spent with family or friends may feel more obligatory than joyful. There may be times when the blandness of "Happy Holidays" annoys you or when you feel as though you're going to rip your hijab off and scream if one more person says "Merry Chri-" and then turns beet-purple and stammers apologies at you. All worthwhile things have their moments of boredom, stress, and anger. Let yourself feel what you feel, and move on.

Give Yourself the Best Holiday Present: A Margin for Error. Don't expect life to go on as usual during The Season. Accept that you probably will spend too much, not get as much done at work as you'd like, and gain some weight. Decide in advance how much of a margin of error you want to allow yourself (say, 10 percent over budget or a 5-pound weight gain). And decide where you can afford to err and where you can't - perhaps you can spend time but not money or indulge in sweets but not alcohol. A little forethought can prevent regret later.

Expand the Circle of Joy. Finally, keep in mind that the holidays are not only about love and joy for you and your family and friends. Take some time to be extra-kind to those who may be struggling (remember my list earlier of those for whom the season can be difficult). Be patient with other people's moments of holiday-induced stress, boredom, and frustration. And be extra-polite to salesclerks, please!

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at missconduct@globe.com.
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Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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Curious if you should say "bless you" to a sneezing atheist? How to host a dinner party for carbophobes, vegans, and Atkins disciples—all at the same time? The finer points of regifting? Ask it here, or email missconduct@globe.com.

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