Holiday Magic

In the modern world, the holidays are sometimes as stressful as they are joyful. The pressure to make things perfect and the insanity of crowds of shoppers might make you wish the holidays went away all together. But regardless of the status of your bank account, or whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or neither, you can still be part of the spirit of the season – peace on earth, goodwill toward all. Here’s how.

Manage expectations
One of the biggest traps of the holidays is the “perfect Christmas” myth. It’s the idea that this year, the holiday will be perfect. The tree will look just right. The gifts will be ideal. The dinner will be exactly what we’re dreaming of. But the truth is, holidays are like any other days: imperfect. The tree might tip over, the gift might not fit and the chicken might be dry. Instead of focusing on making the details perfect, acknowledge that things will go wrong and devote your energy to whatever aspect of holidays you feel is important- spending time with friends and family, celebrating religious beliefs or reminiscing about the past.

Avoid materialism
It’s easy to get caught up in the material aspects of the holidays. Between decorating homes, throwing parties and giving gifts, much of the season has become dominated by shopping. In fact, searching for the “perfect present” has become a way to show just how much you care for someone. But you can experience the spirit of the holidays without breaking the bank. By making your own decorations, limiting extravagant parties and giving homemade gifts, you’ll take the emphasis away from what you’re giving and make the holiday about the spirit of giving.

Give to others
Giving doesn’t have to cost you a cent. You can give of yourself by helping those in need around you. Shovel snow or wrap presents for someone who is physically unable to. Baby-sit a neighbor’s kids so she can run holiday errands or work an extra shift. Give cookies to local firefighters or police who might be stuck at work on Christmas. Take the focus of the holidays off yourself and you’ll find you enjoy them a lot more.

Exemplify the spirit
Crowded malls and jammed parking lots can make your temper shorter than ever. But instead of getting grumpy, make an effort to exemplify a loving spirit with every action as you make your way through the world this season. Smile while you walk on the streets. Give compliments to strangers. Make conversation with sales people. Taking the time to share joy everywhere you go will distract you from frustrations and make your heart happy it’s the holidays.

Go easy on yourself
Of course, no matter how hard you try to stay focused on the spirit of the season, you may find yourself drifting into habits of Christmases past. That’s okay. If you realize you’re stressing out about an unimportant detail or spending too much money on a gift, make a mental note of it, correct your course and then let it go. The worst thing you can do is spend the holiday feeling guilty. Instead, do the best you can and enjoy the season.

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