Yes, Victoria, there is a Sanity Clause

How to save your seasonal sanity

Posted Dec 24, 2015

Milli Lu/Pixabay
Source: Milli Lu/Pixabay

This is a time when all my perfectionism and anxiety can run amok if I let it. It's when I can easily forget sharing our humor and humanity is more important than getting Xmas cards out on time (or out at all), baking cookies festooned with silver balls and sprinkles or putting bows just so on presents.

I know the seasonal phrase ‘Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause’, but not the story. (What did we do before Wikipedia?). In case you don’t know, in 1897, eight year-old Virginia wrote to the (New York) Sun newspaper asking if Santa Claus really existed. Virginia’s father told her “if you see it in the Sun, then it is so”. The editor, Mr. Church, wrote the famous response, which was, in part, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus...he exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist...the most real things in the world, are the things that children nor men can see.”

But my concern is about the little known, rarely invoked ‘Holiday Sanity Clause’. A clause that gives us permission to escape the ubiquitous “hustle, bustle, people passing, shoppers rushing home with their treasures, gimme gimme, buy buy, Martha Steward no, it’s not good enough” time honored (but often crazy making) traditions .

I say, we don’t have bow to holiday pressure and expectations. It’s our choice, our choice not to tow this company line and save our collective seasonal sanity.   

So my letter would go something like this:

Dear editor:

Please tell me the truth? Does the Holiday Sanity Clause exist? People everywhere tell me it’s impossible. “There’s too much to do, things to buy, gifts to wrap, trees to adorn,” they say. “This is the way it’s always been done.” Some people say sanity is possible, but their actions and stress level belie their convictions. Is there really a Holiday Sanity Clause? Victoria (Sanity in Question)

In response, as said editor, I would write:

Dear Victoria,

You ask does the Holiday Sanity Clause really exist? Yes. Yes it does. But it must be practiced to be felt.

For all who believe peace, rest, and wonder are not possible in this overly tech-connected and emotionally disconnected world, I definitively differ.  Sanity exists if you choose it. It is ever-present, yet we tend to refuse it.

The Holiday Sanity Clause is thus: You have the right to say graciously ‘no’. In fact, you owe it to those you love, to say ‘no’  (in however awkward, shaky, wobbly way) to the perfect holiday experience. Instead say yes to our vitality, our fire, our humanity and humor.  You don’t have to have courage to utter it (and indeed this is the time to say it even more clearly). Remember courage comes through the action. Say ‘no’ when you mean it, when you’re afraid to voice it and see what you feel.

Yes Victoria, there is a Sanity Clause. As sure as love and kindness abound during the holidays, so too does the Sanity Clause. We need only choose to act on it.

My wish for all of you during this holiday season – is to invoke the Holiday Sanity Clause, so that we share in the enjoyment over exhaustion, companionship over crankiness and fun over frustration.

© Victoria Maxwell