SOUND MIND, SOUND BODY: Paging the holiday spirit, paging ...

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As she walked down the skinny aisle of the airplane, I knew we were in for trouble.

She looked like a distressed movie star who had just been bumped out of her first class seat. Her long acrylic nails, four-inch heels, poofy hair and big fur coat seemed to fit her whiny voice.

Passengers had been waiting for quite some time to load the plane and she was one of the last to board. I couldn't wait for the cart to come rolling through so I could grab a drink of juice. She looked like she would be drinking something else shortly.

It was near Christmas and we were flying to New York. It was very cold outside. The passengers gawked as she took off her big fur coat.

Suddenly, a flight attendant appeared. "I can take that coat up front for you and hang it, if you would like." "No! I would rather have it right here with me," she said in her whiny voice. She proceeded to take off the giant coat and place it beside her.

The only problem was that there was man sitting beside her and the coat took up half his seat. The man peeked out from behind the fur coat and made a disgusted face.

Obviously, he was not happy to be the coat rack. The passengers, amused at the entertaining display, began to giggle. The man was just about to open his mouth when the well-trained flight attendant jumped in.

"I'm sorry, ma'am but you will have to put this coat somewhere else." Without hesitation, the flight attendant assertively picked up the coat and reached up to the overhead compartment. It was already pretty full. She took one look at the coat, rolled it into a fur ball and then proceeded to try to jam it into the overhead compartment. She pushed and squeezed that coat with all her little, petite might.

"My coooooooat!" The lady with the whiny voice had enough. Next came the scene that would put a 2-year-old to shame. The passengers laughed. I am not sure what happened next but I think the whiny lady had to wear that big fur coat all the way to New York.

Oh, the joys (and inconveniences) the holidays bring. Between the in-laws, the outlaws, the traveling, the cooking and finding the perfect gift we seem to start acting like the whiny lady.

We start treating people as if they were just a means to accomplish our own agenda. Recently, a customer demanded I do several tasks for her. After I completed them she said, "Well, I guess you are good for something." Oh, the holiday spirit. Isn't it grand?

What are some things we can do to find "peace on earth, goodwill toward men" during this season?

Find some "me" time. I know Christmas is about spending time with others but know your limits. You might not be used to being around others 24/7 and during the holidays, people are invading your house, your space, your life. Know your limits. Hey, it's better than ruffling fur.

Plan way ahead for those bumps. So your cousin has a cat and your brother hates cats in the house. Try to find a solution before the cat shows up. Half the family is vegetarian and the other half doesn't think it is Christmas without turkey? Then plan to compromise. Turkey and Tofurky are now on the menu. So it's been a tough year financially and certain family members might not be able to buy presents for everyone. Avoid the embarrassment by suggesting drawing names this year.

Don't over-plan the agenda. "First, we are going to go to this party and then Sara's house and then caroling and then..." After a while, the holiday just feels like one more thing on the list that you have to get done. The best moments in life tend to be spontaneous. Be flexible and allow for others to relax. Don't pressure them to go to yet another party.

Keep blood sugar levels up. There's nothing like hungry, grumpy guests. Hel-lo appetizers! Mini-bread puddings, stuffed cheese logs, bruschetta ... anything to buy some time until the feast is ready.

Keep warm. Make guest rooms as comfortable as possible. Spray the linens with lavender, run a heater for white noise, keep an extra blanket in their room. Remember, sleep deprivation causes holiday nightmares.

Make time for quiet moments of reflection and worship. Light a candle. Turn on some soft music. Look back on this last year. Look forward to the new one. What have you learned? In what valuable ways have you changed? What pearls of wisdom can you share with others? Feel the deep gratitude for being here, right now. Without the whiny lady.

Geneva Wijma has a bachelor's degree and certification in public relations and master's degree in communications. She has taught communication classes at the university and high school levels and worked in public relations in Bangkok, Thailand. She currently teaches communication classes at Walla Walla Community College.

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