“So what? Just forget it. Life goes on. Everyone will understand. Besides, how many of you really need desert anyway?”
“Oh, yes, they do need it on Christmas. I’ll really hear about it I don’t come through.”
Later on I thought about that conversation. It’s so easy to hear other angles to someone else’s thoughts. I had an evil idea and sent her a tongue-in-cheek email detailing several possible journal entries that might wreck her karma if she doesn’t leap out of bed and whip up a figgy pudding, along with 80 dozen cookies.
Here’s a hypothetical journal entry from her adult son:
I know I should spend more time worrying about Mom. She's really trying to do so much, and the fact that she didn't manage to rise from her sickbed and do her usual baking is a terrible sign. Well, she's obviously starting to slip. That just isn't like her. In the past, it didn't matter what was going on, or how sick she got, she always came through for us. But hey, she'll be one hundred in a few decades, so I guess it's normal that she's slowing down. Still, why couldn't she wait and get sick some other week, and not when it was Christmas. The whole dinner was pretty much a wreck because we didn't have pudding and cookies to fill in around the edges.“You are wicked,” she informed me after she read it. “Wicked, and right on target. I can be my own worst enemy.” She went on to tell me she had already come to the conclusion that a new waistline-friendly tradition may begin this year. “But if I hadn’t already decided, you might have convinced me, which is surely what you had on your devious little mind.”
Guilty as charged.
The next morning I paused while writing in my journal, remembering that email. It occurred to me that if wildly burlesque treatment of someone else’s foibles works so well to unmask them, perhaps it would work to use it on myself. I thought of a particular rock wall I’ve been beating my head against the past few days and turned my pen over to the control of a couple of inner “life” critics. They really let loose.
It worked. I ended up laughing at myself and the whole situation. My mind settled down, and I found some possibilities I had been overlooking. I felt cheerful again, even though I still haven’t solved the problems.
Journaling and humor make a powerful combination. I highly recommend it.
Write now: sit down with a cup of tea or beverage of your choice and spend ten minutes giving voice to one or more of the voices causing you stress this season. Let them mock and jeer and tear away. Exaggerate. Blow things out of proportion. Let them do their very worst and carry on until they run out of steam. You may be surprised how quickly that happens and how light you feel afterward.