Linda Lewis Griffith

The holidays are finally over. Whew!

The holiday season can be a stressful and emotionally draining time.
The holiday season can be a stressful and emotionally draining time. Kansas City Star/MCT

Today marks the official beginning of Whew! week.

That’s the time at the end of the holidays when the gifts are put away and the kids have gone home and I flop on the sofa with a satisfying, “Whew!”

We all know that the past weeks have exacted an emotional, financial and temporal toll. Poinsettias were ordered and arranged festively in the entry way. The tree was festooned with lights and sentimental ornaments. Gifts were purchased, then furtively wrapped, while other packages arrived from distant loved ones. Parties and brunches were celebrated with friends.

Our kitchen countertops were covered with treats for weeks until everything was finally consumed, stashed away or tossed.

Things really kicked into gear when the family arrived. A home that has recently adapted to RPT (Retired People’s Time) erupted into joyful melee with the sound of tiny footsteps and three 30-something adults.

Don’t think I’m ungrateful. I adore having everyone around.

My grown sons and daughter-in-law are delightful and sensitive company. They flow together seamlessly, doing their best to ensure our gatherings are successful. I appreciate each of them more than they can ever know.

And my two-year-old grandson is the center of my life. I melt when he calls me “Doodah.” His charm and boundless energy have infused new hope into our clan.

I intentionally don’t overdo at the holidays. I make a point of participating in activities that bring me pleasure and giving the ax to those that don’t.

Photo Christmas cards are a multi-generational tradition so I lovingly orchestrate and mail them to family and long-time friends.

My decorations are simple, often centering around items fresh from our garden.

I get into the holiday spirit with a theater production at PCPA Pacific Conservatory Theatre. A dear friend and I sneak off for an afternoon of hot tubs and chardonnay at Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort & Spa.

Yes, life’s as good as it gets.

Even so, the holidays are stressful. My normal routine is disrupted. Exercise takes a back seat. Spare moments are spent referring to my to-do list, checking what still needs to get done.

The stress is accompanied by guilt. How can I possibly feel anxious when there’s absolutely nothing wrong?

But even joy reaches its limit. When the holiday clock strikes midnight, I’m ready to turn back into a pumpkin.

I’m happy to pack away the stockings, curl up with a good book and at long last, say, “Whew!”

Linda Lewis Griffith is a retired marriage, family and child therapist who lives in San Luis Obispo. Reach her at lindalewisgriffith@sbcglobal.net.
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