I chose the lesser stressor!
Iâm kind of embarrassed that it has taken me so long
to put this into practice, but Iâm pleased to say that Iâve chosen the lesser stressor, and also taken my own advice to spend money, not time.
(Actually, since the situation had more than 2 options, I chose the least of the stressors, but I think that Patâs phrase as a nicer ring to it, donât you?)
Hereâs the situation: For many years now I have hosted a family Chinese New Year party. The menu is âinspired by the cuisines of Asia,â and it is a sit-down dinner for twenty or more people. I have lots of special decorations. I have fun plates from a restaurant supply company. We use chopsticks (well, some of us do) and I usually get to explain some tidbit of information. Last year our theme was Dim Sum and all the grandkids now know what to expect if they go to a restaurant that offers that. We honor the animal of the year. For the year of the pig there were plastic swine floating in the punch bowl. Weâve had dancing roosters and guitar-playing dogs and dragon shaped cakes and other silly stuff. It has become a Big Deal in our family.
Unfortunately I have some health issues and some work stress and Iâm just not up to putting on this show this year. This is stressful. Here is what I see as my options:
1. I can do it anyway. It wonât be the first time Iâve subscribed to âthe show must go onâ school of thought. From those experiences I know that the stress will be awful for several days as I prepare, I will wake up the day of the party just wishing the whole thing would be over, when my wonderful grandchildren start arriving I will be glad for a few hours that weâre doing this, and when everyone leaves Iâll have a stressful day or two cleaning up, putting decorations back in storage, etc.
2. I can take time off work to do the preparation. I enjoy giving parties and it is the crunch of fitting them into my full schedule that is most stressful. I do not get paid when I donât work and although my hours are very flexible I try to save the unpaid time I have budgeted for the year for medical needs and true vacations. Work continues to pile up when I am off, and catching up would be stressful. And even though I enjoy giving parties, it is still a lot of work and right now Iâd find that stressful rather than fun.
3. I can hire several chefs, someone to do the decorations, and someone else to clean up. In other words, I can take the family to the great Asian buffet in our neighborhood, with games at our house afterward. The cost would be comparable to taking time off to do it myself, without considering the cost of the food, so it is economically a reasonable choice. But it is stressful to admit I canât do what I used to be able to take in stride and enjoy. It is stressful to break with tradition. It is stressful to leave my special plates and chopsticks and decorations in storage this year.
4. I could simply cancel the event this year. My family would understand. Iâd probably cry for a week, though.
Weighing the stress levels of these three options, for this year I chose #3. Tonight I made reservations to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit at the nice local Asian buffet, a week from Sunday. I feel a little sad, but a lot relieved. And the grandkids are very enthusiastic about this new twist to the celebration.
(But, dang, it is hard to admit Iâm not SuperMom after all.)