Editorial: Try to relax during holiday hubbub

Column By Melissa Martin

Hurried holiday humans rev up everyone in the near vicinity and beyond.

How can you spot the marathon shopping mothers? They’re the ones with the lazed eyes, ruffled hair, ugly sweaters, yoga pants, roller-skates, and chapped lips.

How can you spot clueless fathers? They amble through the aisles with confused expressions. They grab items without reading the fine print. They are not happy.

Women running around and around on the hurry-scurry holiday hamster wheel need to chill. If you were driving a car, you’d get a speeding ticket. You’re stressing out the kids, the dog, and grandma. The Harlequin rasboras in your calm community aquarium are even feeling your distress.

Men who wait until the last minute and sprint around town to purchase a gift for that special lady deserve to stand in line with crying babies and rude cashiers.

How do you survive the holiday frenzy without feeling frantic? It’s not possible but here are my suggestions anyway.

My advice to the seasonal weary:

Leave the whining kids with grandparents while you shop. Tell the children you’re cleaning toilets for charity so they don’t beg to tag along.

Don’t cry over spilled eggnog. When you can’t find what you want, substitute a similar gift item. You can explain to disappointed children on Christmas day that Santa doesn’t like them anymore.

Caffeine is your chum as you cruise the mall from dawn until dusk. Wear a disguise to avoid running into chatty friends. Complete your mission — or not.

When a counter clerk pressures you to fill out the store’s credit card form to get an itty-bitty discount,  you can say, “I was paroled from prison today and my parole officer wouldn’t like it.”

Loosen up; lighten up; settle down, and calm down. The evil Elf on the Shelf is watching. Hmm, stuff that mischievous elf in a box and put it on your nosy neighbor’s porch.

Do you over-plan, over-organize, and over-do it? Well, that’s why you’re overwhelmed. Duh. No sympathy from me.

Refuse to buy assembly-required gifts unless your spouse is handy.

Buy a super-sized bottle of essential oil and spray morning, noon, and night. My favorite holiday fragrance is called “Pretend you are on another planet.”

Hide the chocolate-covered cherries behind the canned vegetables. Kids won’t look there.

Instead of a large Christmas tree, dig up a small bush from your yard. Disclose to guests that it’s a yuletide tradition from Norway, your ancestral home.

Send the same e-card to everyone on your list. No writing, sealing and stamping. Easy and cheesy.

Throw your to-do list away and say the dog ate it.

Threaten to purchase matching outfits for you, your spouse, teens, and the dog, if they don’t help with preparations. Get the family involved and delegate. A threat to adorn a reindeer costume and dance in front of the school is going too far. Embarrassed adolescents like revenge.

Create a new tradition. The hostess is allowed to take a 60-minute nap while guests wash the dishes.

Out-of-town guests must sleep outside in tents and use the gas station bathroom on the corner. Do provide them with soft toilet tissue and hand sanitizer.

Prepare a “Nice Things To Do For Me” list and give it to everyone you know.  Smile but squint your eyes.

If my assistance doesn’t reduce your holiday stress — I don’t know what else to tell ya.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Ohio. Contact her at melissamcolumnist@gmail.com.