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I got overwhelmed by the holidays. (Again.)

I’m having a hard time believing that Thanksgiving has passed and Christmas looms on the horizon. Which means I am forced to face the fact that we have indeed entered the holiday season — and, of course, the fact that I am almost always overwhelmed by the holidays.

I secretly kind of loathe the holidays.

Not the good parts — time off from work, time spent with friends and family — those parts I like very much.

The part I hate is the bustle. The frenzy. The way people rush around all December like someone is going to light them on fire if they don’t buy Aunt Gertrude a present.

And I hate the fact that every store between now and January will be piping cheer over the top of this frantic, anxiety-ridden atmosphere — as though tinny carols have the power to cure us of our collective meltdown.

The dissonance of the season grates at me and the overwhelm created by the general bustle, rush, and sparkle of the holiday season means I lumber through December like a dazed antelope in search of a rock large enough to hide under.

This may or may not be because I am a highly sensitive person (or HSP; you read more about it at Elaine Aron’s website, hsperson.com).

Ok, fine, I’m sure it is because I am an HSP.

But it seems like a bad sign that this year I didn’t even make it through Thanksgiving.

I had intended to make it through. I thought going into it that I was in a pretty good place — mostly rested up from my previous travel, well-balanced, grounded, and connected.

But I still found myself overwhelmed by the holidays.

Because Thanksgiving was a lot.

A lot of hours on an airplane. A lot of people for hours and days on end. A lot of driving. A lot of bustle. A lot of laughter and conversation. A lot of loud voices and loud places.

None of which is to say that I don’t love my friends and family in California or that I don’t love going home to visit. Because I absolutely do.

But I’m just not a person who thrives on “a lot” of anything. The only things I really like “a lot” of are things like solitude, silence, good books, and cups of tea.

I’m a person who thrives on “just a little”.

And the holidays are often all about “a lot” — leaving a little person like me feeling a lot overwhelmed in their wake.

Which is why for the next wave of the holiday season, I’m going to try and do it better.

I’m going to try and remember that it’s ok that I like just a little when other people like a lot and that it’s ok that I need a lot of time for myself (which can be hard to stomach when there are loved ones downstairs, but is nonetheless true).

And I’d like to invite you to do the same.

I’d like to invite you think about the hustle and the bustle and what the holidays mean to you — and feel free to make that happen if you discover that your vision doesn’t line up with everyone else’s.

If you are an HSP too, then you might want to check out Elaine Aron’s suggestion for the holidays here .

Because my vision of a perfect holiday involves not-going and not-doing and not-bustling.

It involves my warmest PJ’s and my fuzziest pair of socks and a cozy fireplace if I can manage it.

A perfect holiday is warm tea and a good book and my favorite blanket and probably not bothering to put up the tree.

Your perfect holiday may look entirely different.

That’s fine and perfect, too. Maybe your perfect holiday looks just like Hallmark wants it too (in which case — lucky you?).

But I’m guessing that for most of us it looks rather like something else and that the collective urgency and anxiety that permeates the season has more to do with that disconnect than anything else.

Well, that and Aunt Gertrude, of course.

So if you, like me, kind of loathe the holidays and are already feeling overwhelmed. I want to invite you to do it differently this year — by having the holidays your way instead of anyone else’s.

What does your perfect holiday look like? Let me know in the comments below. 🙂


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