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  • Barbara Emrys

For the Sake of Giving

Like any season, the holidays can be a time for rest and contemplation…or a time of trial. We may get a break from work, but what awaits us at home is not always restful or fun.

Holidays may mean we have to travel and take the household with us. Or, we may have to welcome traveling guests into our home. Or, we find ourselves with nothing to do, no one to see, and too much time on our hands. We could even use the holidays as an excuse to cause ourselves more stress.


We could feel sorry for ourselves and mope. We could obsess about things that don’t matter. We could judge ourselves, or we could judge all the people who seem to make the holidays work for them.


You, for instance, may have to take your job home this month. You may not get time off at all. You may hate the whole idea of a holiday– including shopping, shoppers, turkeys and trees. And you may think there’s nothing you can do about it.


Not so. You can avoid stress by first identifying its source. Once you see what bothers you, decide what you’re willing to do about it. Adjust your response. Get over your fear. Stay home, go out, but don’t lose your sense of humor over it.


Decades ago, I realized I had to stop mailing out Christmas greetings, or I’d resent the holiday season forever. Nobody seemed to miss my cards, and I’ve never miss the stress they caused me. Same with travel. Same with house guests. Same with high-pressure shopping.


Enjoying any day requires a little self-care. It may also require a radical change in tradition. Think about what that kind of change would mean to you. Would doing one thing differently make things easier? Would it make someone else happier? That could be enough to make the effort worthwhile.


Can you not do this one thing, in order to make things calmer? Can you do this other thing, in order to put someone at ease? Then give it a try. Even though such things have never been attempted in your family, you can experiment. You can dare to mix things up a little.

It may only take a tiny change to promote peace and pleasure. Sometimes we get hooked on our high-mindedness. We indulge our anxieties. We feel obligated to let the grumpy side show. Instead, we can take some time off from the attitude-stuff, and approach holidays with sense of adventure.


Other people’s religious devotions may seem irrelevant to you, but you don’t have to push against it. You can respect their realty while celebrating your own. In fact, you can let the dream of humanity do what it does, and take a well-deserved break from complaining about it.


You can take a breath and observe. You can appreciate. And you can give, just for the sake of giving.
So, have fun this holiday season! Enjoy the spectacle, and gift yourself with a bright outlook for the new year!


With love and good cheer, from Barbara


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