Getting Through the Holidays with Grace

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Getting Through the Holidays with Grace

Amy MillerContributor: Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, FAND

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Why do I look forward to the holidays so much yet also dread them so much? Am I alone in my excitement over the shopping, decorating, cooking, baking, gift wrapping, and entertaining? And am I the only one who also dreads the pressure of the shopping, decorating, cooking, baking, gift wrapping, and entertaining? 

I’m writing this blog as much for me as I am for you. I need help getting through the holidays. Here’s my strategy for handling the holidays this year with grace.

Don’t expect perfection.
I know one of my issues is that I expect perfection from all the holiday activities. The bow must be just right. The cookies perfectly frosted and decorated. The house immaculate. I need to take a few steps back and re-evaluate the priorities, the first being my health. I need to put a little extra emphasis on doing the things that help keep my Type 1 under control, like testing frequently, matching my carbohydrate intake with my insulin, getting daily activity, and getting enough sleep.

Enjoy the moment.
I tend to enjoy the anticipation of holidays more than the actual holiday. I need to remind myself to enjoy the moments that fill the time from Thanksgiving to the New Year, ones that put a smile on my face and joy in my heart, like decorating the Christmas tree. I love taking the ornaments out of their boxes, remembering where or from whom I got them, and finding a good spot on the tree for each one. I also love Christmas music, especially singing along to it while driving. Yes, the traffic at the mall may be just awful, but I need to enjoy the time in the car where I can belt out “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” with gusto!

Simplify, simplify, simplify.
Last year my husband and I hosted a holiday open house for our neighbors. I worked tirelessly to make six different appetizers. I bought a new ice bucket, set up a full bar, made a specialty cocktail (each Raspberry Rosemary Martini garnished with fresh raspberries on rosemary stems), bought sparkling wine and still wine, an assortment of craft beer, and had plenty of soft drinks and sparkling waters. I was crushed when our neighbors only drank wine or water. The most popular appetizer was the potato chips my husband insisted on putting out. I thought everyone would applaud my hard work, but in the end what people wanted was to make an easy choice, relax, and talk. They didn’t care about all the fuss. Simplifying the upfront work will make enjoying the moment of the event so much better for me. I won’t be so tired. Or frustrated.

Just breathe.
I often laugh when my gentle yoga instructor says breathing is hard. But she’s right. Mindful breathing is difficult, focusing on slow, deep intakes of air and the thoughtful slow exhalations. But the benefits are amazing. I can use my Apple Watch to watch my heart rate slow as I focus on slowing my breathing. Taking a few moments to focus on my breathing slows my heart rate and helps me deal with stress. I know that as much as I try to not let the holidays stress me out, I’ll hold onto old habits of expecting perfection. But if I take a moment each day to simply breathe maybe I’ll be better able to enjoy the moment, think about ways to simplify, and get through the holidays with grace.


Amy Myrdal Miller is an award-winning dietitian, farmer’s daughter, public speaker, author, culinary nutrition expert, and president of Farmer’s Daughter® Consulting, Inc., an agriculture, food, and culinary communications firm based in Carmichael, California. Amy was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was seven years old.