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Home for the Holidays

The holidays are filled with family, friends, laughter, parties, decorating, shopping, cooking --- and stress. How do you take pleasure in celebrating without stressing? Allow the following thoughts to put you more at ease and increase your enjoyment.

Focus on the real issue. Holidays are about remembering a meaningful event – the founding of a free nation, the virgin birth of Christ, the miracle oil that burned eight days, celebrating family, customs and culture. Do not allow the focus to be packed calendars to prove your status in the community, or elaborate decorations to showcase your talents, or lavish spending as a display of your generosity (and pending debt).

Surrender to family time and just enjoy being together. Sure, Uncle Joe might be a bore and your in-laws a little overbearing, but they are family. Approach the visits with the right attitude and a forgiving spirit. Let your guard down and do not be so sensitive or too critical. Allow the mistakes of yesterday to pass with yesterday and enjoy the holidays without incident. Your mate was by choice, the rest are by chance, so breath deeply, laugh spontaneously and embrace the loving energy that family brings. Live one day at a time, and appreciate that one day for what it is and for who you are.

Keep it simple sweetie. A gourmet sandwich with a relaxed host is more enjoyable than a seven-course meal with an uptight party-giver. Stay within your budget when gift giving and par down the list of recipients. I suggest that buying less and paying cash for holiday expenses upfront will help you get back the true spirit of the season. After the holidays, buying less and paying cash for the needs of life will help get back the true meaning of living.

Be creative. In decorating, greenery, ribbons and lights are quite elegant. Make a centerpiece of a beautiful bowl filled with pinecones and springs of holly gathered from the woods. Add ribbons to cookie cutters and hang on the tree. Replace wire ornament hangers with sparkly ribbon. For a festive look, intertwine garland of gold or silver around pictures or non-holiday nick-knacks. Find excitement in seeing how you can take existing items and give new life with small changes. Use the Sunday comics as wrapping paper.

Attach new meaning. Change your mindset toward the things you have. When our daughter was young I wanted to buy new exciting tree decorations and discard the old. It was not in our budget. Instead of seeing it as the same old stuff, I began to look at it as tradition. We used these traditional ornaments for the next twenty-five years and they grew more special each season. They have been gently retired to the attic.

If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. The invitations were sent before the monsoon rains came and disabled our rural septic system. What to do? Without mention of the problem we welcomed our guests and continued the festivities as planned. When a guest had to go to the bathroom, he was greeted by a decorated port-a-potty and a smiley-faced sign: “Please do not flush the commode. If you prefer, Wal-Mart is five miles down the road.” The party was enhanced as others shared humorous stories of similar predicaments.

Memorize and live the Prayer of Serenity. Most people know the first four lines of Reinhold Niebuhr’s Prayer of Serenity, as they are used in all the twelve-step recovery programs. I encourage you to meditate upon the entire poem. (see below)

DON’T COPE, OVERCOME: Holiday is the shortened form of the term holy day. Holidays are times of renewal. Allow your creativity to be rekindled, spirit to be renewed, relationships to be rebuilt and the holidays will indeed by happy.


God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
taking as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it.
Trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to your will;
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Reinhold Niebuhr

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