It took exactly three days for the stress to set in after waltzing through the beginning of the holiday season vowing to avoid any stress. It was the gift wrapping that got to me, an art I absolutely suck at so, amidst golden paper, green ribbons and tape that would not stay in place, the few packages that needed dressing up brought me to my knees.

I stopped and sat down in front of a bowl of cereal. That is when I realized how comforting cereal is to me. Bland, sugar-free and spruced up with some almonds and cranberries, it is my dinner of choice. I never, ever have cereal for breakfast. That’s why it’s comforting, it’s like a little act of cheating I can get away with. While munching, I started making a mental list of everything I find comforting in times of stress, besides puffed rice.

Idiotic TV in the background. I don’t actually watch it but I find the noise of stupidity while I am otherwise engaged strangely calming.

Curling  up in Ottie’s bed. We like spooning, I caress his belly while he puts his head in the crook of my arm and I inhale his doggy smell, a mix of dirt and prosciutto.

Making lists. Pretending to organize what I can’t get to makes me feel highly organized.

Chopping vegetables. Repetitive, calming and usually ending up in some form of dinner.

A very English cup of tea. Preferably Lapsang Suchong.

My yoga mat. Not necessarily going through a series of postures but just sitting on it and doing a few twists does the trick.

Plucking my eyebrows. It requires so much concentration, it’s impossible to think about anything else. Extremely long day at work. Time to choose something from the above, because if I think about all there is to do I could weep.

Extremely long day at work. Time to pick from the above – if I dwell on everything that is still to be done, I could weep. Who invented the damned holidays??

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