Stop Wrapping,  Start Remembering

December is a month of remembrance and celebrations, but too often it is also a month of overwhelming obligations and rampant commercialism. The combination of guilt, stress, lack of sleep, and overspending tend to turn the last month of the year into a whirlwind of overextended schedules. Don’t let negative emotions and unrealistic expectations take over this season. You won’t get a prize if you pack every spare moment with errands, shopping, and trying to make everything perfect. If anything you will run yourself down and get a cold or worse.

Promise yourself that this year you will focus on your family, friends and yourself. Let go of the picture you have in your mind of the perfect holiday setting. Whether that image is of an immaculately set dinner table, your pets gazing lovingly at your Christmas tree, or your children delicately lighting the menorah, it’s rarely going to happen. What will happen is someone will spill wine on your antique tablecloth, your dog will chase your cat up the tree, and your child will try to light all the candles on the menorah the first night, not to mention their sibling’s hair. No one will remember how perfectly pressed your napkins were, but they are going to remember the touch football game everyone played in the back yard after the meal.

Crank up the holiday music and make cookies. Snuggle on the couch to watch a movie marathon or football game.  Make a new tradition, sometimes the sillier the better: Ice cream sundaes for breakfast or making a snow man with out the snow. Pick a craft to make as a family or organize a scavenger hunt. Write letters to each other and yourself. Stick a short note in your holiday decorations box listing this season’s successful and not-so-successful adventures. When you open the box next year you will remember how frustrated you were that you tried to make home made cranberry sauce when everyone just wanted the canned kind, but how much everyone loved spending a whole Saturday in their pajamas.

Volunteer time to a charity or perform a community service project with your friends. Send care packages to military personnel and visit your local nursing homes. This holiday season vow to spend less afternoons fighting the holiday crowds at the mall and more time on fulfilling activities. Make sure to allow yourself plenty of down time. A nice glass of wine or cocoa by the fire, or a hot bubble bath, puts a lot in perspective at the end of a long day. Reflect on all you have achieved in 2015 and decide what your goals are for the new year. Ask yourself what has made you smile the most this year and holiday season. Focus on incorporating those things into your 2016 schedule.

Don’t drain yourself this December. Fill yourself with the hope and love of the season…and maybe a few more of those cookies.