Back when I was in college, I'd come home for the holidays and do my last minute Christmas shopping on the 24th. I'd borrow the car and head out to the Green Acres mall for a few hours. Yeah, I was that guy.
The mall always provided ample shopping opportunities, and I could generally find everything I wanted/needed for the folks on my list. It usually took a few hours, and contending with hordes of people was never fun, but it just seemed like the best way for me to accomplish my goals.
The real adventure came when it was time to leave. The parking lot was, of course, a mess. But I would slowly pull out of my space and into the lane of cars creeping slug-like to the exit. And the hour+ wait to get out of the parking lot never bothered me. I played Christmas music from WHTZ on the car radio and relaxed in slow ooze of traffic.
I took some perverse delight in the aggravation other drivers seemed to experience. Their frustration and shock at the pace of the cars made no sense. Seriously, what did they expect? A quick in and out of the mall on Christmas Eve in the pre-internet shopping days? That's just craziness. Traffic was a nightmare and obscenely slow, but you know what? How else could it be?
I guess experiences like those shopping expeditions were where I began forming some of my key beliefs about dealing with life. Among them was the simple idea that when things go as I expect them to, then they are much easier to deal with, especially when I already expected them to go badly.
But really the key things is this:
There are only two types of things to stress about in this world -- thing I can change, and things I can't change. If I can change them, there's no point in stressing about them when I can simply change them. If I can't change them, then what's the point in stressing about it?
I may not always live up to that, but it's a helpful frame of reference when I find myself getting anxious about the latest windmill I'm tilting at.
As for the Christmas Eve shopping expeditions, well, they've been supplanted Amazon.com. And I no long spend Christmas Eve staring at the sullen faces of annoyed drivers. Now that's a holiday upgrade.