Thriving... not just surviving "The Season"

by Kimberley Thompson, Tastemaker in Residence

35 years.

12,775 days.

A blink in time...or an eternity. Depending on how one looks at it.

Sorry, let me clarify. For 35 years I have worked retail. For 35 years I have willfully thrown myself into the absolute chaos of "The Season." For 35 years I have worked overtime, beyond long days into long nights, helping others find just the perfect gift.

Soothing the frazzled, inspiring the confused, cheering the novice and keeping the focus.

Overwhelming? You bet. Rewarding? Darn tootin'! 

Christmas, or as it is known "The Season", offers or takes, every thing in me to keep my balance as I work with upwards of 30 very different clients during a very long day.

Over the decades, I have developed a few "Must Do's" in order to survive the basic 4 to 5 week stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

One: Make plans for yourself on a regular schedule. Example - 2 to 3 mornings a week, early if I'm working or a bit later if I'm not; I grab a coffee and drive to my favorite park. I park under the trees and either walk for 10 to 15 minutes or I sit in the Jeep listening to Big Band music. It provides a quiet break in my day that has NO ONE else in it.

So keep your pedicure appointments, just move them around. So often we stop doing "things" for ourselves during December because we do not want to ruin someone else's holiday. Place your peaceful moments higher on the priority list.

Two: We all try to cram in too many traditions and events, until they all become blurred in our memories; more dreaded than fun. I have learned to say yes to controllable events. By that I mean under 2 hours. I can still experience "festive" in small doses and not feel cheated.

One year I decided to attend two Holiday Theatre events. Another year a midnight concert in a historic old church. Try strolling a favorite street with good friends for a bit of shopping and noshing. Choose the long way home through decorated neighborhoods and enjoy the Christmas lights.

This year I went to the Julmarknad at the American Swedish Institute. This lovely holiday market includes 35 crafters exhibiting beautiful Swedish style weavings, wood chip carving, boiled wool jackets and hats, and a stunning silversmith. I shopped with a dear friend and found a few gifts, enjoyed their company; toured the Turnblad Mansion, sampled traditional Swedish holiday treats and was back home in under 2 hours.

Small, doable events. Small personal little windows of time for self. Don't feel like you are being selfish, these little things actually give you energy for other areas of your life. 

Give yourself 15 minutes when you get home to have quiet time. Amble in your house, don't flip on the TV or your iPhones. Set a timer if you have children and let them know that they can tell you about their day ONCE the timer rings.

Third: Breathe. Listen to the message. Hear the words of each carol. Let the cadence of each verse sink into the rhythm of your breathing. Know peace. Look for the Star.