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10 Ways To Stop and Smell the Turkey!
by Merci Miglino

It's back. The holiday season. And it's bigger and worse than ever! Why? The world is an uncertain place right now and people may want to put all their hopes and dreams for peace and normalcy into the traditions of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa and other seasonal celebrations.

This is a good thing. As the song goes, "We need a little Christmas right this very minute" and, whether or not you observe Christmas, you and your family may feel a stronger-than-ever-need to find joy in the festive spirit of your own holiday celebrations.

So the temptation to over do things - shopping, eating, and partying - is pretty strong this year. Before you know it, you're looking at extra pounds, pooped from all the party preparations and a lot poorer from all the extra spending. While these holiday activities may take your mind off your troubles for a time, they bring with them added problems. Stop the madness before it begins. This year stop and smell the turkey - or the ham, the roast, the chicken or the Tofurkey! Acknowledge your fears for the future, find the courage in the peace and warmth of the season, and make a decision to celebrate in a bold and determined way! Pay attention to what really matters this time of the year and always… your family and friends, your health and well-being, your connection to the divinity of a universal spirit who gave us a holiday season just so we could help ourselves to platefuls of joy and love. And, of course, a succulent and aromatic turkey!

1. Make a list of your most deeply felt intentions for the season. A better relationship with family? A chance to enjoy a holiday without stress and conflict. The willingness to take in the generosity of others? Light a candle daily asking to keep these intentions in mind during the season and all year long.

2. Set a budget and keep track of your spending. This doesn't sound like much fun but when you determine exactly how much you want to spend and then actually spend just that amount this will be the best holiday you ever had!

3. Make shopping a social activity. Stop for a coffee. Reminisce about holidays past. Wander and see the window displays, the mall decorations, and the twinkling lights. Catch up with old and new friends. Spend time instead of money on your loved ones.

4. Watch all those corny holiday specials. Yes. Even the cartoons, the original version of Miracle of 34th Street, and the classic, It's a Wonderful Life. Be open to their simple but timeless messages and let them warm you all over.

5. Take some time off. Enjoy a day of baking cookies and sweets, making decorations, or doing a craft -- without "fitting" it in between work chores, and shopping. Do one thing at a time. Meet the challenge of single tasking. The rewards are immeasurable.

6. Scrutinize your schedule. Ask yourself, "Is this activity obligation or choice?" If you come up with too many "obligation" answers, re-think your priorities. Set firm boundaries about what you willingly want to do and do just those things.

7. Limit all news especially bad news. Watch a half-hour of news instead of 8 hours of CNN. Scan the newspapers and magazines headlines and read only what makes you feel good as well as informed.

8. Write an old-fashioned, put-a-stamp-on-it letter. Instead of sending out 300 holiday cards. Write a few letters. Use some festive paper, a favorite writing tool and your best penmanship. Connect with those far away who are also weary from the world's troubles. Tell them you care. Send everyone else an email.

9. Set aside time each day to stare at a snowfall, take in the tree lights, meditate on the Menorah, agree with the angels and pray for peace.

10. At mealtime say Grace. Thank your higher power for the meal and the good fortune to enjoy it and the good sense to stop and smell the turkey.

Merci is currently making the rounds with her signature presentation, From Doormat to Diva© Taking Center Stage in your own life! based on her book of the same title. Merci is also a trainer for several Employee Assistance Programs, the NYS Department of Health, the NYS Nurses Association, Magellan Behavioral Health and the Civil Service Employees Association. She has managed and coached both paid and volunteer staffs numbering as many as 300.

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