Ten things you DON’T have to do during “The Holidays”

Here it is–“The Holidays”–and as if the stress of all those parties, decorating, presents, relatives, and the expectation to make the Holidays “perfect” were not enough, your spouse is having an affair and everything has turned upside down!  When your spouse has turned into their Evil Twin, and they are trying to say the kids are okay sharing the holidays with the Other Person, and you feel everything you believed in has been shaken and crumbled…HOW are you supposed to get through The Holidays?  I’ve noticed lately that when I write an article, I tend to write almost a whole book, so in an effort to make it easier and a little shorter, here are ten things you just DO NOT have to do this year during The Holidays, while your spouse is having an affair:

1.  Pretend like “everything is okay.”  It is okay to tell some people–like a supportive sister, a pro-marriage friend, or someone you trust–that things just are NOT okay.  It’s also okay to let your kids know that this Christmas you feel sad and so it may not quite be exactly like some of the other years.

2.  Compete with your spouse (or soon-to-be-ex) over the kids.  They are just as much a parent in your kids’ lives as you are, and yet it’s not a competition to see who can spend more to buy their love.  The kids know which parent puts them to bed at night, helps them with homework, makes dinner, and takes time to actually be with them…and no amount of presents can buy that.  So if your unfaithful spouse buys your kids a bunch of stuff…let your kids enjoy the stuff they’ve been blessed with.  It’s not a competition and their love can’t be bought.

3.  Buy a gift for every branch of your family tree, all your co-workers, and everyone you’ve ever known.  Some gifts can be hand made.  Some gifts can be baked.  And the financial fact is that this year you may just have to trim that list back with a hedge-clipper. Well, so be it!  Christmas is about helping folks less fortune and celebrating the birth of the Savior–not “bigger, better, more expensive” presents.

4.  Put on the “perfect Christmas feast for 20″ all by yourself.  This year let someone else host the feast…or if it has to be at your house, ask for some help or hold it pot luck!  One year I told all my friends they could come and share food and caroling but in order to come in the door they had to bring something to share for six others.  Use paper plates….no one will care!

5.  Go into debt to buy presents.  So your spouse and the other woman are buying your kids a trip to Disneyland, huh?  Or a new touchscreen cellphone with unlimited minutes?  Don’t try to outdo them or go into debt to keep pace.  Give what YOU can afford to give and give it with love.  Take them ice skating and to hot chocolate afterward…for free!  Go tobogganing and let them laugh over mom/dad going over a bump!

6.  Go to every single holiday event to which you are invited.  Just learn to say no.  There is only so much that you can do, and it’s hard enough to sleep anyway!  Pick certain events that have a deep meaning to you (like your kids’ performances and that one church service) and to all the rest say “Thanks for thinking of me, but this year I’m afraid I need to say no.”  It’s okay.

7.  Make 12 dozen cookies for “Bobby’s class” when 3 dozen will do.  Actually I don’t need to explain this one, do I?  We all do this and demand so much more of ourselves than necessary.  Just look at the things you DO choose to do, and ask, “Am I going overboard here?  Am I holding myself to unrealistic expectations?”  If so, then get back to reality!

8.  Keep up with the Jones’ and light up your house like the Griswold’s.  Okay the lights on the house, and the perfect tree, and the garland, and the cards, and the candles, and the pine cones…OY!  It can be exhausting.  Pick the top three that are “must do” for you,  and do those three.  Then one by one add the next decorations if you have the energy–and if not, then don’t stress.  Maybe this year rather than sleighing to the forest to hand chop the perfect tree, allow yourself to go to the little tree place in town and pick a pre-cut one for $20.  Hey why not?

9.  Be perfect, look perfect, or “be happy all the time.”  Here’s the truth: your spouse is having an affair and is with another person and no part of you feels “perfect.”  So don’t try to make yourself be or look “happy”!  If you feel sad, on the occasion feel sad.  If you don’t feel like wearing red and green and being jolly, then be who you are and feel how you feel and let some people know.  Okay comb your hair and brush your teeth, yes.  Put on new, clean clothes every day, yes.  Be happy because it’s “The Holiday“?  NO!  Do the best you can, and maybe this is the perfect year to start a new tradition of NOT doing something just because you don’t feel like it this year.

10.   Eat only cookies, chocolate, and eggnog while staying up all night trying to get everything done.  This time of year is notorious for bad eating and sleeping habits.  Yes it’s easy to grab, but don’t grab just those two cookies for breakfast…or only coffee with eggnog creamer either!  If you want to have any energy at all it is important to remember that you need to eat nutritiously and get rest.  So, eat your fruits and vegetables and go to bed at 9pm if you feel tired.  It’s okay.