Monday, December 2, 2013

Holiday Musings!

Hi Friends:

With Thanksgiving behind us, Hanukkah upon us and Christmas and Kwanzaa just around the corner, I wanted to share a few thoughts about the holiday experience. Right about now we are inundated with news reports on the hottest trends, shopping frenzy and sales predictions. We are told how to get the best deals, beautifully wrap packages, set the perfect table, and pace ourselves in order to juggle it all and remain stress free. The message seems to be that the holiday is something to be survived more than enjoyed.

For years I have found this time of year to be very emotional - a mixture of excitement, expectation and even melancholy. When I am out and about, I am deeply affected by the decorations and holiday music; it evokes memories of holiday's gone by and loved ones lost. I want nothing more than to shop and lunch with the girls in my life. Sign me up for the cookie exchange and count me in to go to a holiday craft show. I love every caffeinated minute!

So how can we get the most out of the holiday and skirt the downside? Maybe we should start by adjusting our perspective. Gift giving, for example, shouldn't be a chore. It's not about getting someone exactly what they asked for, it's about enjoying the opportunity to give. In our house, there is a long standing rule: you can't ask for your gifts. Now this doesn't mean that hints aren't occasionally dropped, but the shopping experience changes when you have to put a little thought and/or creativity into the gift. Shopping is no longer a  laundry list of items to buy and recipients will be appreciative of your efforts. What more precious gift is there than thoughtfulness?

Decide to enjoy being among the bustling crowd. Pause to delight in children getting their pictures taken with Santa, hum along with the piped-in music, help someone make a selection, or chat with your neighbor in the checkout line. Choose to be merry and you will be rewarded by way of a joyful heart.

Remember, too, that you don't have to "do it all." Pick a few meaningful things to do with loved ones to celebrate the holiday - something everyone will look forward to each year - a cookie baking day, holiday movie night, or piling in the car to marvel at the brightly lit houses. Most importantly, give back. Regardless of your celebration preferences, live out the expression that to those who much is given, much is expected; there are lots of opportunities to volunteer or sponsor others in need at this time of year.

Finally, be patient and non-judgmental. Just because we may celebrate the holiday a certain way, doesn't mean others do, too. If we pledge to be generous of heart and spirit, the holiday will be exactly what it is supposed to be - a time of hope, joy, peace and love, especially love. 

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