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The Amateur Parker

Have a Nirvana Holiday, And Donít Stress About Parking

December, 2014

Melissa Bean Sterzick

The holidays have snuck up on me this year. The older I get, the faster the year flies and the shorter the span between two Decembers feels. I’m still burnt out from last Christmas, so it’s been tough to wrap my brain around the one ahead.

My apathy has led me to a new kind of holiday nirvana, if you will. I think my decision to abandon some of the extras that have always seemed so important might just help me enjoy the season much more than I expected.

There could be some people who stop sending me holiday greetings because I have given up on Christmas cards. My neighbors will probably thank me for sparing them the caloric impact of my usual baked offerings.

My children won’t notice I’ve bought them one toy and a pair of pajamas, because their three sets of grandparents are wearing out their credit cards in a competition to spoil my girls and fill my tiny house with Legos, American Girl dolls and board games.

If any of my comments so far seem “bah, humbug,” it’s because they are just teetering on the edge of “I hate Christmas.” I don’t hate Christmas, but I don’t look forward to it anymore. It’s too much work.

So, I will outline the parameters of my “new kind of holiday nirvana” and hope they will inspire other disenchanted souls to just take it easy this year.

1- Stop obsessing about the gifts and traditions. The energy I spend making the holiday season special for everyone else is what makes it hellish for me. I’m no overachiever and have only once stayed up later than my regular bedtime putting together large toys for my children. But I still want the holidays to be eventful, fun, original and exciting. There are lots of parties, shopping, cookie-decorating, cheese plates, and custom photo calendars for the grandparents, and the horrible day we make gingerbread houses. I’m going to plan on relaxing, not filling my time.

2- Stop obsessing about the food. I’m a feeder. That means if I love you, I feed you. During the holidays, I cook and cook and bake and gather and fill my already full house with the most delectable foods I can find: homemade apple butter, pumpkin pie with crust made from scratch, cider, cinnamon rolls, the cheese I already mentioned, soups galore, sugar cookies, shrimp cocktail, and the little plate of cookies and carrots we set out for Santa and his reindeer. I’m going to let the food traditions happen organically. No, I’m not going to start buying organic food, it’s pricey. What I mean is I’m going to see what each day brings before I decide on any menus.

3- Stop obsessing about parking. After Thanksgiving, I start fixating on where I can go and when I can go there to avoid the parking mayhem. I’m preoccupied with efficiency to the point of exhaustion. I’m just going to build 30 minutes into all of my errands and plan to have trouble finding parking. I’m going to put some good music on in the car and use the time to contemplate the weather.

4- Stop obsessing about the perfect holiday. If I really want to make my kids happy, all I have to do is sit on my couch for days watching movies and making microwave popcorn; order pizza for lunch, and make Top Ramen for dinner; suspend bedtime for tickle time; and buy a tree that’s so tall it bends at the ceiling. I know they like traditions, too, but they don’t enjoy a stressed-out parent.

If this column seems a little more Better Homes & Gardens than Parking Today, I promise to do better next month. If anything, a message about being deliberate can be applied to any person, business or industry.

My holiday angst parallels any quest for success in that it is the measured approach that offers the higher rate of return. Putting too much or too little pressure on any endeavor causes chaos, exhaustion, and capitulation.

My holiday strategy has always been a combination of a military operation and run-around-like-a-chicken-with-its-head-cut-off types. Whatever you want to call your approach, a little meditation, observation and careful carpe diem will always be advantageous.

Happy holidays, and a bright new year to all.

Melissa Bean Sterzick is Parking Today’s proofreader,

occasional writer and amateur parker. She can be reached at Melissa@parkingtoday.com.


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