Unexpected Lessons during a Pandemic Christmas

Merry Christmas! I remember when I was young, how a feeling of melancholy would descend upon me after the hype of Christmas. It’s different now that I am a mother. The end of Christmas means I can finally relax – no more shopping, baking, cleaning, decorating, and wrapping. No more constant anxiety about creating the perfect magical memories. It should have been easier this year, as the pandemic limited what Christmas could be. However, somehow it was worse in terms of my anxiety. Perhaps it was because my classes ended later than usual in December and I had at least one child at home since before Thanksgiving. I channeled all my anxiety into online shopping, which I did not really realize until the children sat among their mountain of presents this morning. It was too much.

Later this afternoon, as I folded laundry, I listened to Tim Ferriss’ podcast interview with Leo Baubata, the author of Zen Habits. I didn’t really consider the depth beyond the message behind the idea of “simplify your life” until he explained that it does no good to begin simplifying without identifying the root of the behavior – whether it be the accumulation of possessions or commitments. Most of it is driven by anxiety, which has been heightened by the pandemic. This really resonated with my Christmas splurges and my increased work commitments. Next semester I added another class and another administrative role to the same schedule I struggled with this fall. Somehow, I have not made the best choices because I feel best when I am “doing” and now I need to ride it out until May. Hopefully, I will learn some lessons along the way and find healthier ways to manage my anxiety. It’s not enough to hope 2020 will be better; we need to make it better.