by Pamela Cole Harris
Each year, for too many of us, the holiday season just doesnít live up to our expectations. Instead of joy, it brings stress; instead of peace, it brings tension; instead of love, it brings animosity. This holiday, letís do something different. Letís let ourselves and our family enjoy the season! Hereís how to begin:
1. Donít make yourself crazy this year! If the house isnít perfect, who cares? Friends and family come for the memories and the companionship, not to count the dust bunnies. And if you have dust bunnies, just paint Ďem red and green and pretend they are part of the dťcor! Next year, when they remember the holiday, they wonít remember the books out of place or the stain on the rug, they will remember how relaxed they felt in your home.
2. Donít force togetherness! Some family members love you dearly, but they find mandatory togetherness an ordeal. Let them spend the holiday in ways that make them happy, not in ways you have determined they should. Leave them free to join the gathering of their free will, not out of family guilt. They will love you for it!
3. Remember that the holiday is about joy, not a grim march to buy ďstuff.Ē Nobody wants you to put yourself in debt over your head to give them something they may not even remember by next Christmas. While a gift of sacrifice of the heart given with love is what the season is all about, all too often we give gifts of sacrifice of the pocketbook in lieu of love.
4. If you have ďalwaysĒ made the holiday meal, give it up this year. Have a potluck with everyone contributing! It will give you more time to enjoy the company and will give them all a chance to show off their special culinary expertise! (And you might find a new favorite holiday dish!)
5. Give your family what they really want for Christmas Ė your attention and praise! They may not remember that tie you spent hours picking out for them, but they will remember the moments you spent telling them how proud you are of the person they have become. They may not use the bubble bath, but they could use your forgiveness and understanding. They may not be warmed by sweaters or afghans, but they will be warmed by your love and caring.
This year, as families gather together for the holiday season, remember that what will endure from this yearís celebrations are the gifts of memories, connections, time, praise, and love. And these things you canít buy, canít polish, canít bake (contrary to advertisements!), and canít mandate. So letís do something different for the holidays this year Ė letís just enjoy! And who knows, we just might have the best holiday ever!
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