Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Surviving Christmas

Is it really true? Did that Countdown to Christmas counter I see whenever I go to the food court 5 times a week at the office turn 24 today? Wasn't that just 80 or 79 when they first put it up?

That means there are just 24 days left until Christmas.

And that means there are just 3 weeks left to do all the shopping and partying and the working in between before that happy day.

That means I better be on survival mode already.

I remember past Christmas seasons when things were just a tad too hectic.

I got sick one time with colds for 3 weeks and my ears were so clogged I couldn't hear in one ear. I finally went to see a doctor on the morning of December 24, finally convinced I needed some serious help.

Then there was a Christmas season full of deadlines that I was interviewing someone on the morning of December 26. My desperate tone convinced my interviewee to meet me the day after Christmas.

There was just no time to shop one holiday season that I ended up at the mall--and braving the crowd--on the morning of December 24 to finish shopping for my loved ones.

And then I remember a time I felt like Elastigirl being pulled this way and that to drive, pick up, deliver, fetch someone or something, and watch a program and attend a party in between.

Well. Never again.

I've since wisened up, I'd like to believe.

And so here are some strategies I have employed since then to help me survive the Christmas season sans stress and sickness:

1. Calendar everything, be it deadline, press con, interview, meeting, program, party, lunch date, Bible study meeting, family affair, and so on.

Putting everything down in a month-in-a-glance calendar will help you see if you're committing yourself to too many things.

So far, my December calendar is pretty much OK, with just one party a week scheduled.

2. Don't say yes to every invitation. Yes it's nice and fun to attend every party you're invited to, but with city traffic at its worst at this time of the year, it makes sense to be more choosy. Don't worry. You can meet other friends next year.

Just this morning, for instance, my friend Meg said that with her schedule, it looks like we won't be able to see each other until next year. But she assured me that I won't miss her as she will be sending me some food when I go to work on Christmas Day (yes, I think I have work at the newsroom then).

3. Shop a little at a time as often as you can. Some years back, I did all my Christmas shopping in 1-2 days at the mall. While that would be ideal so one can save on transpo cost, it may not be practical if you don't have much time.

So last year I started shopping early (as early as September) a little at a time. Every time I was at the mall for something, I picked up one or 2 gifts for the holidays. It was also more relaxing as I had the luxury of choosing something that would suit the recipient more.

With that strategy, I was done with shopping by the 2nd week of December.

4. Try shopping online. I like checking out online stores since you're more likely to find unique items you can't find in big stores at the malls. I also like to support budding entrepreneurs (there are many of them on Multiply) so I buy online. Payment is via bank deposit, G-cash, or meet up and they deliver the goods to your house via courier if you aren't meeting up.

A word of caution though: Buy only from established online sellers or those with good feedback.

5. Get plenty of rest. If you do number 2 above, you'll have enough time for rest. Sleep on time, get enough sleep, and make room for some "me" time to recharge.

6. Take your vitamins and eat and drink healthy. Boost your immune system by treating your body well. And while we're at it, make sure you exercise regularly, even if it's just for 30 minutes.

7. Remember what it's all about. We have Christmas because it's Jesus' birthday. And how can one attend a birthday celebration without greeting the celebrant? So make time to pray.

Besides, taking the time to pray can help you put everything in the proper perspective, letting you see what really matters in life.

So there you have it, my 7 survival tactics for the hectic holiday season. Merry Christmas!

BOOK OF THE WEEK: It's not at all Christmas-y, but the book I've been lugging around lately is Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples by V.S. Naipul. What made me pick up the book at a secondhand book store recently is Naipul's name and the "Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature" text on the front cover. In this book, Naipul revisits the places he has visited before for his book Among the Believers: Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, and Malaysia. Through his profiles of real people, readers get to see what life is like for Muslims in those areas.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: ...He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

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