COLUMNS Word & Wisdom

The Value of Options

I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about keeping options open, always having a Plan B. Every year about this time, I get a combination of holiday anticipation and dread. Maybe some of you know what I’m talking about and then there’ are those that might think that’s crazy. For those that think its craziness,, we will return to the idea of options before this article is done.

I love the idea of holidays. Thanksgiving with its food and family and hunkering down with that winter feel, and Christmas withs its cinnamon and Santa and surprise gifts:  What’s not to love?  But holidays don’t come easily it if you are the one in charge of making it happen. So every year I debate with myself about how much effort I plan to expend and what events I will definitely attend and which ones are purely routine and meaningless.

I do this every year. I look at all my options. There has been a year or two when I’ve let the holidays slide by, unattended by me.

Where’s the dread? The little kid in me pops up and reminds me to limit expectations. Keep Plan B clearly in mind.

Holidays set people up, in a way. Family gatherings over a turkey dinner, for instance. For those with dwindling families, the holiday may highlight a sense of loss or an unrealized desire. In any case, holidays can trigger less than happy thoughts and memories. This year my son wiill be returning home for Thanksgiving with some friends. I’ll find a few new recipes to inspire my latent cooking skills.  Christmas? Tree? Maybe. Maybe not. Cards?  Big dinner? Who knows? I’ve left my options open.

Making life easier for myself is one of the ways I am obligated to take care of myself.  I get to pick and choose what’s comfortable for me. Sometimes spending a day home, alone, on a holiday, is easier.

I like to think its a conscious awareness of what suits me. Having Plan B can be anything:  A drive along the coast, attending a movie, cleaning out closets.

Holidays do not need to look like we see in the media. They can be  a day of one’s own, and may be a day of spiritual renewal or a day of quiet.

Options keep hopelessness at bay. Options validate one’s sense of freedom. One is not locked into one mode of expression.

Options: Invaluable. Priceless. The best gift you can give yourself.

By Tobi Nason

Tobi is a Manzanita counselor.