Monday Manifesto #14: I Will Stay in My Lane

Author: Bo Stern | | @bolovesjoe

So this is it, guys.  The week that kicks off all the other weeks.  The day before THE DAYS.  The  start of the holiday season is officially upon us (do not come at me with Halloween - Halloween is literally child’s play compared to the big guns of Thanksgiving and Black Friday and Cyber Monday and New Year’s Eve.)  

I  decided this might just be the very perfect time for a holiday manifesto (and I can too say “very perfect” if I want to because: Holidays.)  

The thing is: I have 53 of these suckers under my belt - thirty of them as a Mom.   I’ve stressed and clawed and struggled my way through so many holiday seasons.   I’ve worried about recipes and relatives and will it snow or won’t it snow.  I’ve made lists in triplicate and utilized precision-level planning to pull off a turkey dinner where everything is hot at one time and “For the love of God get to the table in the next twelve seconds or this day and all future days are ruined!”  In short, I’ve worried the fun right out of my holiday season while working to put the fun IN everyone else’s .  


But when Steve got sick, I got really tired.  I just couldn’t perform the way I used to.  Department stores made me cry.  Parking lots gave me panic attacks.  Christmas movies were dark and depressing.  Nothing was as it used to be, so I had to find a new way and the new way I found was:  I will stay in my lane, and my lane is Love.   Toward that end, I decided I would no longer buy gifts just to buy them.  If I couldn’t find something I loved for someone, I would write them a note instead, telling them how beautiful and wonderful their existence is to me.   I would cook a little and buy a lot of pre-made stuff, without worrying that my kids would be emotionally scarred by a Costco pie.   And anything that pushed me OUT of the lane of loving Christmas, was kicked out of my life.  One year that meant no holiday movies (I’m glad to report, they’re BACK in my life!)  Another year that meant we went out for dinner.  And for the past several years, it’s meant NO Christmas cards.  

I wouldn’t dream of telling you what’s in your lane this year and what isn’t.  You may love creating eight-course feasts for your people. Maybe that’s life giving to you.  Great! Go at it!  But do it because you love it and not because you feel you owe to anyone or because you hope to receive praise and gratitude commiserate with your efforts. That’s a quick trip to disappointment.  Decide now what you will take on this year and then, just like Santa, check that list twice and make certain everything belongs on it and everything on it can be done with love.  

Now, list in hand, you shall face your beautiful holiday season with the following word bullets ready to shoot into anything that wants to push you out of your lane: 

  1. I will stay in my lane. My lane is love.  

  2. I will catch the seeds of resentment as soon as I start to feel them and refocus on love. 

  3. I will take care of myself this year.  (Write three ways you can lean into self-care when you feel tired.) 

  4. I will not let the culture tell me how my Christmas needs to look.  

  5. I will not overthink, overanalyze or over-criticize.  

So, there you go!  You’re armed and delightful.  Let’s do this! 

With hope, 



PS:  BONUS!  Here’s a link to Kristen’s husband’s famous Apple-Cranberry dressing.  She swears it will make you as happy as Joey Tribbiani in his Thanksgiving pants!   (She also says her husband BAKES the bread for this stuffing earlier in the week but I am in denial about that part.)

Whitney ParnellComment