It has been, as they say, a year. Pardon me if I don’t recap. Let’s just say no one has posted a meme saying “Thank You 2020” on social media yet.
I have been growing more and more concerned about the people in my own little world in the last few weeks. I always ask friends and coworkers what they are doing for the holidays. As you can imagine, this year is different.
Many have said “nothing.” Some have said “working.” A few have said “traveling to see family,” often with a deep sigh. (Frankly, I am unsure if their lack of enthusiasm is concern over COVID-19 or their regular anxiety of seeing their family - or both - but the line has yet to be delivered with excitement.)
Which is why I feel the need to be the “happiness fairy” at this very moment. People, people: yes, this year sucked. (Did I say this was a PG13 blog? Sorry, if not; it is. See headline.) Yes, COVID is horrible, money is tight, the cold is upon.
Which is exactly why taking a holiday break this year is CRUCIAL.
Humans can only work so long under stressors like these without cracking. Even if we are working fewer actual hours than this time a year ago, we’re always working now – and we are doing much of it on screens that look like poorly lit Hollywood Squares. If we are working from home, many of us are juggling kids, school Zooms, telehealth appointments, sourcing PPE for ourselves and families while at the same time – often on the same screen in the same app – trying to find the “perfect” gifts for loved ones. All while trying to muster enthusiasm for Christmas trees, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa candles, gifts and family meals.
And I say: STOP.
Not like you need my permission, but maybe you need to see it in print: Take the damn vacation time. A week is good, but if you can’t take a week, take a few days or a long weekend. Take a few nights. But however you do it, give yourself a gift – maybe the most important one you give or get: time.
Stop multitasking to the fullest extent possible. Personally, I know I have exceeded my limit when I can't find my keys, the glasses I am searching for are on my head and I am yelling at the cat to leave my feet alone for the 1000th time. (Evy is currently hiding from me; this just occurred.)
So ... shut down the laptop, light some candles, and lower the noise level unless it is coming from laughter. Light a fire in the fire pit; walk in the snow; toss a football or snowball, read a book, play cards.
As we head into the deepest parts of winter and COVID-19, taking this time to breathe, play with your kids, sleep in, walk with your partner, binge something on a streaming service, do a jigsaw puzzle or play a new game will help fortify you for the coming hurdles.
Burn the candle at just one end for a few days and that light will lead you, and us, forward.
I am taking my own medicine. I'll be back to you on January 4 with, I hope, a recharged brain. By then I also hope to have found my keys.
May your holidays be merry and bright, and may 2021 bring joy to you and those you love.
PS: If you need to reach me for urgency or better yet, fun, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 410-430-9705. I promise to put down my s'more an answer.