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Finding Peace at the Holidays

For many people, the holiday season is one of stress and tension. It starts the day after Halloween and continues until New Year’s Day, with many of us going into over-drive to create the perfect holiday, become a super host, cook extraordinaire, greeting card distributor, home decorator, and party guest. Our expectations of ourselves drive the stress bus. In our efforts to please our children, family members and friends, it’s easy to become depleted, missing out on the true spirit of the season. I remember one particular Christmas Eve, when my former husband and I stayed up most of the night building a complicated Lego castle for my 10-year-old son. I don’t think he would have cared if we left it in the package, but we thought it should be constructed for the wow effect. We were so tired the next day it was hard to keep our eyes open, while the boys opened their gifts. I remember more than a few Christmas mornings of exhaustion when my kids were young. I wish I had been able to step back and see the insanity then, but I was wrapped up in the craze to create the perfect Christmas for my boys.

Aren’t the true gifts of the holiday season more simple, like the connection with loved ones, the beauty of a winter landscape, sparkling white lights, the surprise visitor from afar, a card from an old friend, or a toasty fire on a cold winter night? Those who celebrate Christmas are honoring the birth of Jesus, and teaching our children to believe in the magic of a benevolent jolly old man who visits in the night leaving surprise gifts.

A slight shift in perception can ease the stress, if we allow it. We can find the peace and joy of the season that we crave and express in our spoken greetings and cards if we give ourselves permission to slow down. Letting go of expectations can take the weight of our perceived responsibility for your loved ones happiness off your shoulders. Dare to create your own unique experience that aligns with who you are, letting go of guilt and self-judgment. If you find you need more space and time for yourself, mail the greeting cards after Christmas, put up less lights, pick a smaller tree, buy store made cookies, and send gift cards by email. The true spirit of the holidays is about love and light, spending time with loved ones, and creating joyful lasting memories. After Dr. Seuss’s story character, the Grinch stole their decorations, gifts and feast, the Whos in Who-ville awoke and sang so joyfully, “Christmas Day is in our grasp, as long as we have hands to clasp”. Simple and beautiful. Wishing you the joy, light and magic of the season.

Love, JoAnn


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