We are delighted to welcome Dr. Jeanette Winters to the blog this week! Jeanette has collaborated with Shandel on several projects, as well as wowing the LEXI audience in Seattle this year. The True Life/Chandelle Group team is grateful for her willingness to share her holiday thoughts with us as Shandel is off enjoying her new marriage!
We hope you will find Jeanette as delightful as we do!
I grew up with the original Christmas fairy. Mother has always been organized for the holidays. Our family spans the globe and she began the season by mailing all gifts the day after Thanksgiving. She mailed 250+ holiday cards to business associates and family on December 1st (all hand addressed with personal notes in most). And then of course, she decorated. And I mean really decorated … usually two trees, lights on the house, and even hung ribbons and ornaments on the forest paths that wound their way through the 100+ acre homestead.
I am not my Mother’s daughter in the holiday fairy sense but years felt compelled to live up to her standards (simply impossible you see). My holiday preparation for the past decade or so had been significantly eased and anxiety reduced through the use of online shopping. Pick it out, pay for it, supply the address and the verbiage for the card and done. But finding just the right gift was never easy … Mother & Dad have everything they want and buy it if they don’t. I struggled and struggled and usually ended paying a queen’s ransom to have packages delivered on Christmas Day. And even after the gift process was completed, that left cards unsent, the house not decorated and a general feeling of coming up short. I never felt good about the holidays, felt pressure to do better, earlier and with more joy.
About five years ago, work had been particularly busy, and life was spinning faster than I could keep up. Mother’s packages and cards arrived and I was overwhelmed with a sense of doom. I hadn’t even thought of Christmas. On a whim, I picked up the phone and called Mrs. Christmas Fairy (aka Mother) about to propose heresy but I had to try.
“Mother – I am swamped. Not the usual more than I can get done in a reasonable day but truly under water. I received your packages and card today and realized I have done nothing about the holidays. I don’t know what to get you, I am stressed to the max and well – I wondered if we could forego all the holiday “stuff” this year. What if we agreed to no presents, cards only and if you come to visit I promise only to have a wreath on the door.” I waited for the world to implode.
“Why dear, I think that is wonderful. Dad and I don’t really want anything, and we couldn’t care less if you decorated. I do enough of that for us all. Really – I’d rather have you less stressed and happier than working yourself into a tizzy. Next year, no gifts at all – me either, okay?”
Here I thought the world would end, only to find out I was living to a standard that grew out of habit and without any real attachment on my part nor on the very person I was trying to please. The woman I cared so much about not letting down was more than delighted with me setting boundaries around holiday expectations. The holidays have been ever so much more pleasant since – and I don’t let anyone down (especially me). Tis the season to be jolly – and I am!
I urge you to consider a few suggestions to managing your own holiday regime:
- Consider ways of reducing time and cost for everything! Examples:
- I notified my usual card recipients that I would forego sending cards – except e-cards to those I won’t get to see or have been out of contact with for all too long. Now some still send out lovely, personalized cards which I treasure but I don’t reciprocate.
- Reconsider holiday gift giving. Ask yourself who you want to buy gifts for and why. You will be amazed at how many will be delighted to forego the usual holiday presents. I had a friend who spent all too much money on lovely gift baskets for me – usually containing things I don’t eat or shouldn’t. I approached her and asked how she would feel about doing something together instead of exchanging gifts. She was thrilled and now our holiday luncheon has become an honored tradition.
- Contribute in lieu of gift giving. I advised my team at work that I would give to a charity of choice instead of buying individual presents. Less stress, money goes to an exceptional cause and I contribute in the name of my awesome team.
- Skip the food to excess and stress level. Ask yourself, do you like to cook for three days straight? Do you really need all the pies, cookies, homemade candy? Would simpler fare serve all better Would going out for dinner be a nice change?
- Parties, dinners and more cocktail parties. Ask yourself – do I really want to go to each event Remember, most of your invitations are truly optional. Try not to over schedule and overpromise – no matter how tempting.
Give yourself a present this year. Enjoy the holiday season with moderation and do only those things that matter, you will enjoy it more and engage in the stuff wonderful memories are made of … even my Christmas fairy will tell you, it’s a great way to make the holidays more meaningful and more fun.
Happy Holidays to all!- Jeanette Winters Jeanette is a seasoned talent management executive who has worked at Intel (named their 2003 Diversity Champion for her strategic plan to recruit & retain women), American Express, Pitney Bowes, Amgen and National Computer Systems - (where she was the first female vice president). A highly regarded executive in the talent management arena, she has been called “one of the true rock stars of talent management this decade”. Jeanette holds a doctorate in public policy from the University of Southern California; masters degree in student development, bachelor’s in sociology. She is also a certified executive coach, and has a certificate in neuroscience and leadership from the Neuroscience & Leadership Institute.