Each year, for too many of us, the holiday season just doesn't live up to our expectations. Instead of joy, it brings stress; instead of peace, it brings tension; instead of love, it brings animosity. This holiday, let's do something different. Let's let ourselves and our family enjoy the season! Here's how to begin:
1. Don't make yourself crazy this year! If the house isn't perfect, who cares? Friends and family come for the memories and the companionship, not to count the dust bunnies. And if you have dust bunnies, just paint 'em red and green and pretend they are part of the décor! Next year, when they remember the holiday, they won't remember the books out of place or the stain on the rug, they will remember how relaxed they felt in your home.
2. Don't force togetherness! Some family members love you dearly, but they find mandatory togetherness an ordeal. Let them spend the holiday in ways that make them happy, not in ways you have determined they should. Leave them free to join the gathering of their free will, not out of family guilt. They will love you for it!
3. Remember that the holiday is about joy, not a grim march to buy "stuff." Nobody wants you to put yourself in debt over your head to give them something they may not even remember by next Christmas. While a gift of sacrifice of the heart given with love is what the season is all about, all too often we give gifts of sacrifice of the pocketbook in lieu of love.
4. If you have "always" made the holiday meal, give it up this year. Have a potluck with everyone contributing! It will give you more time to enjoy the company and will give them all a chance to show off their special culinary expertise!
5. Give your family what they really want for Christmas - your attention and praise! They may not remember that tie you spent hours picking out for them, but they will remember the moments you spent telling them how proud you are of the person they have become. They may not use the bubble bath, but they could use your forgiveness and understanding. They may not be warmed by sweaters or afghans, but they will be warmed by your love and caring.
This year, as families gather together for the holiday season, remember that what will endure from this year's celebrations are the gifts of memories, connections, time, praise, and love. And these things you can't buy, can't polish, can't bake (contrary to advertisements!), and can't mandate. So let's do something different for the holidays this year - let's just enjoy! And who knows, we just might have the best holiday ever!
Pamela Cole Harris is an editor and writer with 35 years experience. Visit her website, http://www.homeandgardenmakeover.com, for a free newsletter with remodeling, home improvement and decorating ideas for the financially challenged and creatively deficient. Or for unique content for your website, written especially for your keywords and audience, visit http://www.pamelacoleharris.com .