Happy Holidays?

“Joy to the world” . . . “This the season to be jolly” . . . “Happy holidays” . . . and even “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Such refrains are playing on our radios, in the stores, seemingly everywhere we go right now. The Christmas holiday season is celebrated as one of great joy and happiness. But do we find it to be so?

For many of us, this is the busiest time of the year. We are decorating the house, hosting parties, attending parties, planning gift exchanges, shopping for friends and family, baking special treats that we only make once a year. All of those may be “joyful” things, but so often the stress of long, busy days only makes us exhausted and frustrated. The stores are crowded. The children are excited, noisy, and always underfoot. The list of things we need to do and to remember gives us a headache. We forget that the holidays really are supposed to be a HAPPY time!

What can we do to enjoy this holiday season? What will bring us that elusive happiness at Christmas time? Here are a few ideas:

1) Say “no”. Do you really have to attend every Christmas party that you’re invited to? Choose the ones that are really important to you, where you will be with friends who bring happiness into your life. Participate in the events - whether parties, plays, festivals, etc - that will enrich your holidays, not add meaningless stress.

2) Simplify. How can you shorten your to-do list? Do you have to bake twelve dozen cookies for the office Christmas party, or can you order them from a bakery? Do you have to wrap your own gifts or can you have the store do it for you? Do you have to make the fancy delicacies that take hours to create, or can you make some simple treats that take less time?

3) Plan ahead. Don’t wait until the last minute to do your shopping. Figure out now, at the beginning of the holiday season, who and what you need gifts for, if you need a new dress for a special party, what you’re going to serve for that Christmas Eve dinner, and so on. Then begin now to do your preparations and shopping ahead of time. Not only will you avoid the stress of doing things at the last minute, you’ll also avoid the crowds of other people who are doing their shopping right before Christmas!

4) Focus on the things that matter. Christmas has become all about “stuff”, but it’s really about relationships. Take time to enjoy your family and friends this holiday season. Instead of giving lots of expensive gifts, consider taking a special trip together, or going to an event that you all enjoy. The special memories and close relationships will last so much longer than any gifts you can give.

So go ahead - relax and have some fun this holiday season. You just might find it to be a “Merry” Christmas after all!