Just Say "No"

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"Just say no" by Meg Herriot (CatholicMom.com)

Image credit: Pixabay.com (2014), CC0/PD

No, this isn’t a diatribe on drugs. It’s really about sanity and keeping it. This year I have tried to say, “No,” with great frequency. While this might not seem like a positive statement it really is. Saying, “No” to volunteer opportunities, extra-curriculars and even music lessons and a lot of enrichment activities for my son is actually saying, “yes” to time at home, time to spend as a family and time to rejuvenate.

In this time of “FOMO” (Fear of Missing Out), sometimes it’s good to miss out. Sometimes, because I’m a helpful person and people are aware of this, it has been hard for me to say no, especially when friends are in a jam. (Depending on the friend, the nature of the issue and how helpful I might be, I might say, “yes”). I’ve told myself, “if I say “No,” I’m giving someone else the opportunity to say, “Yes.” Someone who is maybe shy or reluctant to step out and normally assumes that people like me will just do it.

This saying, “No” has been especially helpful and yet hard at Advent. Go to Christmas concert or go to holiday event at zoo? My husband has been helpful in my life to slow me down. My husband and son are definitely introverts, and they need their down time. I have become that way more and more over the years. I don’t know if I’m a natural introvert, or if over 12 years of having to play nice with people who aren’t so nice at work, (you know, those people who push your buttons, who just try to do things to get a rise out of you by treating you poorly) has made me into an introvert. We all need quiet time and we all need some time at home to enjoy with our family.

My family has said, “No” to Elf on the Shelf, even though my kid told me everyone in his class has an elf. Instead we have multiple Advent calendars and incorporate prayer into our Advent. This is our family culture and we are fine saying “No” to some stuff.

I like to remember that we have Epiphany and the stuff I wasn’t able to get done before December 25 can still happen after Epiphany. We organize “Epiphany Caroling” at a retirement home every Epiphany. Everyone in our Lay Dominican group enjoys it and it’s a lot easier on everyone’s schedule to do an event in January rather than squeezing something more into December.

Figure out what’s important to your family, give yourself grace when you aren’t able to do things you wanted to. As a matter of fact, we normally put up three wreaths on our front windows every year. I got a wreath on the main window and told my husband the others may not happen. I told him, “That’s the frosting; it’s not necessary if it’s going to stress us out (it involves taking screens out of third story windows).

He told me, “I like the frosting.”

I told him, “I’ll go without frosting if it means going without cranky.”

We will see if I ever do get the wreaths up, our son won’t remember that, but he will remember if Mommy and Daddy were cranky and I’m fine saying “no” if it means saying “yes” to sanity. Give yourself grace if you didn’t get everything done this year and focus on what is important.

It occurred to me as I was lamenting that no matter how much I plan and chop from my to do list, I still don’t have the house as ready as I want or the cookies baked and the gifts prepared.

Mary and Joseph weren’t really physically ready for Jesus — I mean they didn’t have a hotel reservation and she gave birth in a manger. That didn’t matter though. They were spiritually ready and God took care of the rest.

Though we may not be physically ready, let’s pray for spiritual readiness and the grace to have open hearts this Christmas season.


Copyright 2019 Meg Herriot

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About Author

Meg Herriot is a veterinarian and Third Order Dominican. She enjoys spending time with family, friends, and pets and blogging at All Creatures Great and Crazy about being a veterinarian, mother, wife and most of all a Catholic trying to grow closer to God in a chaotic world.

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