Joanne Palmer: A wish list for holiday freedom |

Joanne Palmer: A wish list for holiday freedom

Joanne Palmer

In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at or

Wow! I'm delighted to announce a writing tip gleaned from Nora Ephron. As most of you know, I am a big Nora fan. In fact, I already have submitted a request to the writing powers that be to give me one-tenth of her creative powers in my next life.

Anyway, in a recent Nora interview she admits to using a software program called Freedom, which prevents her from going on the Internet while she is writing. Freedom bills itself as a "productivity application," and all it takes to download it is a 10-spot.


Stalling, procrastination and leftovers are all hazards of writing at home, and of course, the Internet can be the biggest time waster of all. Although in the time it's taken me to write the above, I have called the ski report, fed the dog and searched for my calculator.

But what if there were Freedom from the Holidays software?

What are the things you would block? What would you free yourself from this holiday season?

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Here, in no particular order, is my list:

Free from braggy holiday letters. I love mail, especially a genuine, old-fashioned letter. I like cards on my birthday better than gifts (strange, I know). I truly love, love, love getting holiday cards. I enjoy hearing from people I don't normally communicate with during the year, and I adore looking at pictures of people's kids. Oh, but how I hate braggy holiday letters that tout everyone's achievements. No one can have 365 days of perfection, can they? Please, just like a perfect martini, serve the news straight up. Let me know your triumphs and your tragedies.

Free from fruit cake. Need I say more?

Free from Scrooges. Some of us love the holidays, so keep your bah-humbugging to yourself.

Free from a clean house. Once the tree is in, the decorations up and the cookies baked, who has time or energy to tidy up?

Free from work but not the income. Yippie!

Free from vacuuming up Christmas tree needles.

Free from seizure-inducing holiday lights.

Free from receiving underwear as a present.

Free from hangovers.

Free from inebriated people at holiday parties who violate my personal space.

Free from retail stores opening at 4 a.m. Heaven knows I need my beauty sleep, and of course, it's not about the presents, it's about spending time with the people you love.

Free from guilt. Holiday guilt can be overwhelming. Crippling, even. Guilty of overspending, underspending, forgetting someone, overeating, disappointing someone, under-exercising.

Free from Christmas cookies that have been handled like a deck of cards. 

Free from eggnog with mysterious extras added. 

Free from having to bring a side dish.

Free from exhaustion.

Free from illness. No fun having the flu, crud or a cold.

Free of "needing" to buy someone a gift. 

Free from holiday travel hassles such as delayed flights, full-body searches and lost luggage.

Free from weight gain.

Free from expectations. Holidays go hand in hand with broken appliances, arguments and a prized present that gets thrown out with the wrapping paper. Let go of your expectations and hang on to your sense of humor. It's the only way to survive.

Now, I invite you to create your own list and set yourself free!