A few weeks ago, a friend told me jubilantly, "The date's set."
December 3—the date for her husband's hip-replacement surgery.
They'd waited for over six weeks for a definite date … because of Thanksgiving and the approaching year's end. A scheduled time was still up in the air.
And that detail was driving her husband crazy. He was fretting over every possibility.
- · What if the hospital set the time and then changed it?
- · What if they had to arrive at oh-dark-thirty?
- · What if the time got postponed after they arrived at the hospital?
- · Why couldn't the surgeons change their routine practice of epidurals and put him under?
- · What if he became nauseated after the anesthesia?
- · What if he couldn't manage the post-surgical pain?
- · How would she get him from the car into their ground-floor apartment?
- · What if they couldn't manage the shower without help?
- · What if his adult kids didn't understand why they couldn't travel for Christmas?
- · What if he was totally immobile during the holiday?
- · How would he get his Christmas shopping done?
- · How disappointed would everyone be because he couldn't smoke the turkey?
Somehow, the fretting didn't drive my friend nuts. (Her patience borders on saintly). She said part of what helped her stay centered was avoiding the non-stop Christmas ads and parties and implied demands that Christmas required a nine-course dinner with twenty guests and a house decorated by Martha and a new BMW or Lincoln or Range Rover parked in the driveway as the gift du jour.
My friend's husband came through the surgery with no problems. He's exceeding expectations with the physical therapist who comes to their home twice a week. He manages the pain with a third of what his surgeon allowed.
His fretting about Christmas gifts and the Christmas dinner and decorating the apartment takes center stage fewer and fewer hours of every day. To keep my friend's stress manageable, they've agreed on thirty minutes or so of fretting-debrief after she comes home each evening. She'll unpack a few ornaments this weekend while he makes eggnog and queues up Miracle on 34th Street.
'Tis the season to fret because social and mainstream media never let us think we can finish everything that needs to be done. Stress—the noun equivalent of fret—piles up as we struggle to be perfect. Running faster and faster blocks the question: WHY?
This year I'm downshifting. I'm a reluctant shopper at best, but I'm boycotting Amazon. Too easy to succumb to buying more stuff. I've contributed to favorite charities to honor the people on my list who really don't need more stuff.
And, I've decided on a unique gift for a couple of family members and friends. I got the idea from Through Rose-Colored Glasses, the February release of my second Ryn Davis mystery. Check out the book if you're interested.
Here's wishing one and all a fret-free season—or as close as you can get to fret free.
AB Plum lives, writes, and plays just off the fast-lane in Silicon Valley. A broken hand in October caused a bit of fretting about getting her second Ryn Davis mystery to market, but she's ready to hand [pun intended] off the ARC and feeling light as snowflake and ready to enjoy the holidays.