Surviving December, #1-7

“Every year I just try to get from the day before Thanksgiving to the day after New Year’s.”—Harry, from the movie “When Harry Met Sally”

All of you whose favorite Christmas song is “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” you can all go away now. Go snuggle with the Abominable Snowman before he had his teeth pulled.

I’m here to stand up for the rest of us, those of us who do love the holidays but perhaps not so much this year, when things are hard. Some years we see the hard stuff coming, and other years it sneaks up on us, like that gosh-awful song “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.”

For the next three Wednesdays, I’ll be making my list and checking it twice before I hit “publish.” The following Wednesdays after this series are Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Good luck/May the Force be with you/God bless/Lord, have mercy.

  • Eat well. This is first on my list because it is the hardest thing for me to do. When I get stressed, I immediately feel sick to my stomach and can’t eat. Other people tend to overindulge in the milk and cookies. Regardless, when we don’t eat well, we don’t sleep well, and the next day is crappy.
  • Elf well. Watch the movie “Elf” at least once this month. My favorite lines are from the parts regarding children’s book publishing, especially, “No tomatoes. Too vulnerable.”
  • Sleep well. Do visions of sugarplums dance in your head, or do you toss and turn, debating whether to eat more sugarplums at 3 a.m.? More and more research links lack of sleep to a host of illnesses and disorders. Maybe you need to have your sleep evaluated; I have two friends who were shocked to discover they had severe sleep apnea. Maybe you need to tweak your caffeine level or turn off the iPad or pretend to have a headache and go to bed at 8 p.m. Sleep is that important. The last time I saw my counselor, he said, “How’re you doing?” And I told him, “I’m on this great new drug. It’s called sleep.”
  • Party well. Give yourself permission to skip one Christmas party.
  • Exercise well. December is the month to start your exercise program — not January. Your gym is likely to be semi-deserted right now except for the hard core, those of us every-damn-day-ers, and we are too self-involved to notice newbies. Last December I started yoga, and it was the absolute best thing I did for my physical and mental health in 2014.
  • Music well. If you can’t handle Christmas music, it’s OK. I won’t tell anyone if you decorate your Christmas tree while listening to George Strait, as I did.
  • Sic’ em well. If you’re a Baylor fan, and you’re not in Waco for ESPN’s College Game Day on Saturday, what is the matter with you? I live three hours away, and my Baylor Bear and I will be there at 8 a.m. This will be one of the highlights of my Thanksgiving-New Year’s, whether or not Santa brings us a Big 12 trophy.

to be continued …


  1. right on, pal, right on. Love your writing… matter the season. Or song.

  2. Yes! Seeing as how I’m one of your friends recently diagnosed (but not yet treated for…) sleep apnea and the fatigue is particularly wrenching today….I totally agree with your list – especially the sleep part.

    My daughter would totally agree with the Christmas music part.

    And…as much as I love the holidays and look forward to them, every single year I find myself slipping into the blues. Too many painful childhood memories from family visits. Normal, I know….but they can still bite me in the you-know-where.

  3. All good advice, Megan. All of it.
    The Christmas season is always a conflicting time of year for me; when my kids were little it was wonderful, but they’ve been gone and/or married for about 15 years. Now there are grands, but they’re 3 hours away (and their parents have nixed the wonder of Santa Claus from the get go). Pooh.
    The reality is my mom died 30 years ago and every Christmas there’s always a song or two that reminds me of her. There are many occasions when I’m driving along to Safeway and I hear something on the radio and end up crying…. She loved to sing.

    What IS Christmas? I don’t think it’s all the trapping, it’s the inside knowing of the truth that God sent His son to live here and walk through all the hard times with us.
    And I’m sure He must smile at our choice of ‘Christmas’ music.

  4. I LOVE this. Glad you’re sleeping better, dear Megan.

  5. I’ve never seen Elf. I wanted my tree up before I left. It’s not. I’m going to be eating a lot of pancakes, peanut butter and jelly, and fried foods for the next week. I have no scheduled Christmas parties. But I’m going where there’s lots of warm sun. Sun is good.

    Love you!