Posts Tagged ‘Surviving the Holidays’

By Shannon Penrod

Yesterday I found myself saying to someone, “I’m so far behind!  It’s mid- September and I don’t even have Jem’s Halloween costume!  It may seem like it’s far away, but Halloween is just around the corner and then seven seconds later it’s Thanksgiving and then it’s just a slow slide into Christmas and New Years!”  While I was ranting about the impending holiday treadmill my blood pressure climbed until I could see my pulse in my left eye.  How did I turn into someone who stresses about holidays months in advance?  I never used to be this way!  I loved the holidays!  Of course that was when I was single and childless.

Back in the old days I could shop on my own terms and didn’t have to have a babysitter or a shopping cart full of distractor toys to occupy a small child while I attempted to find just the right gift.  I remember showing up to holiday parties on time, with clean clothes on and my face fully made-up.  I was rested and full of joie de vivre!  I remember clearly the first holiday season after I became a mother.  I arrived at one party 40 minutes late with vomit in my hair and leaking breasts.  I ate a carrot stick and then fell asleep on a love seat while people reveled around me.  It wasn’t my finest moment.  That was the same holiday season that featured no batteries on Christmas morning, so none of the toys lit up or played music and there was no picture of my child on Santa’s lap that year.  I arrived at the mall too late on Christmas Eve and the line was already closed.  I felt like a total failure.

That’s when I stepped firmly onto the holiday treadmill.  This is the gerbil wheel that tells a mom if she hasn’t started her Christmas shopping by mid September, she’s never going to make it.  It is the anthem that screams “If you don’t get the Durkee Fried Onions now, they won’t have them at Thanksgiving! ”

I remember my mother baking and freezing Christmas cookies in September and October when I was a kid.  Every weekend she would make two kinds, so by the time December rolled around she could throw together a platter of homemade cookies that would make Martha Stewart cry with envy.  All those years that my mother baked the fall away, and I thought she was crazy!  Now I know the truth, she was on the treadmill!

Last year I attempted to get off the treadmill.  We scaled back.  I only opened two boxes of decorations and we didn’t even put all of those up.  I shopped less, gave fewer gifts.  I did almost no baking and we didn’t even get pictures taken.  We didn’t have a party and we scaled back on attending parties.  All in all… it sucked.  There wasn’t any hustle and bustle but there wasn’t much awe and wonder either. 

Now that I am a Mom and a wife I know that part of the joy of having pulled off a holiday extravaganza is the joy of seeing those surprised faces!  Sure, they never fully understand how much work went into getting 22 hot dishes on the table at the same time, or decorating a full house and buying presents for 50 people on a budget of $100!  But they still look happy and cared for and at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about.  So, I’m on the treadmill this year again.  I already have my teacher gifts and my Toys 4 Tots donations, at this rate, if I can keep it up, I may get to sleep in December.  To all those Moms who make it happen every holiday season ROCK ON!

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By Shannon Penrod

A couple of years ago a small group of friends and I made a friendly little bet.  We all wanted to lose weight and or get in better shape but we couldn’t quite get it together on our own.  We knew the strength in being accountable and the power of the carrot and the stick so we devised – THE BET. 

THE BET was simply this: A five week committment to working out a minimum of five hours weekly.  The ante?  $100 in cold, hard cash.  Everyone who wanted to participate had to put up $100.  If you kept your work out commitment you got to keep your $100.  If you failed to keep your committment you had to pay your $100 to the remaining participants who were keeping their committment.

The result was amazing.  Most of us kept the committment.  Sure, stuff got in the way, life intervened and made it REALLY difficult, but we still managed.  I remember getting out of bed at 11:15 one Sunday night because I realized I was a half hour short on my weekly total. There I was in the livingroom working out to a Kathy Smith video, bitching the entire time, but I was moving.  At the end of the five weeks I was in the best shape of my life and wearing a pant size I hadn’t worn since I was in 6th grade.  I’d love to say that I had a huge epiphany about the value of excercise and kept it up but that would be a lie on an epic level.  No, I got pregnant and gained weight that I am still whittling away at.

And the sad truth is I am not motivated by the rewards of working out.  Knowing that I will feel better and look better just doesn’t get me off the office chair to shake the junk in my trunk.  But knowing that I was going to have to pay close friends $100 because I was a lazy failure had me high kicking with Jane Fonda.

One of the friends who participated in “The BET” called me today and told me that the post Thanksgiving haze was threatening to suck her under.  I realized that in five weeks we will be in the new year.  I don’t want to wait until then to start thinking about an exercise plan.  In five weeks I can either be in better shape, in the same shape, or in worse shape.  Those are the only three options. I’d like to start the new year with a bang and be in better shape.  So we are starting the bet again, this time the Holiday Version.  Yipes!  I have no idea how I am going to squeeze five hours of work out into a crazy holiday week, but I’m not parting with my $100!  I’ll keep you posted on the holiday insanity and the exercise sanity.  Wish me luck.

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