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Making This A Happy Holiday


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Holiday time is difficult for most of us... try these tips to beat the holiday blues!

Here’s one of the best-kept secrets: Holiday time is difficult for most of us. At this time of year there’s an unspoken pressure to look and feel happy even if we aren’t. Family problems take center stage as we gather with relatives to celebrate. We’re reminded of holidays past when we may have lost loved ones or had other intense personal difficulties with which to contend. Need I say more?

The folks I counsel seem to be struggling with the holidays this year more than ever. There are a few reasons for this:

  • Unemployment Levels: The unemployment rate is just south of 10%. Meanwhile those folks with jobs are either doing the work of two or three people or are frightened that they’ll be out of work any moment.
  • Financial Strain: It’s always a challenge for people with limited funds not to feel “less than” at holiday time. Many more people find themselves financially challenged now than in years past.
  • World Situation: International economic and political uncertainty leaves folks with a sense of dread, making it more difficult to relax and enjoy this festive season. Traveling to holiday destinations becomes increasingly stressful (even by bus or train) because of the need for heightened security measures.

The good news, however, is that there are things we can do to lift ourselves out of the doldrums and enjoy the holiday season despite unfortunate circumstances. Think about more creative and less costly ways of giving. The fact that funds are in short supply doesn’t mean that creativity, love and good will are! Have a family meeting and talk about ways to make this holiday season the best ever. If you think outside the box you’ll come up with some great ideas and you can add the following to your list:

  • Make your gifts to one another services you can provide, e.g. a massage, cleaning out the basement, painting or stenciling a room, organizing an office or redecorating a room with the furnishings you already have.
  • Create home-made gifts for one another, e.g. baked goods, hand-made stationery, a CD of favorite songs and the list goes on. One of the best ideas is a Memory Box: Buy or create an attractive box and fill it with hand-written notes that either recall wonderful memories shared with the gift-receiver or that describe what you especially love and value about him or her.
  • Change your usual traditions. Eat somewhere else or have a different menu. Find fun things to do that cost little or no money, e.g. attend tree-lighting ceremonies, organize neighborhood caroling or go bowling as a family. Anything new and different will keep you from comparing this year with holidays past and are bound to be fun.
  • Volunteer somewhere, anywhere, as a family. There’s nothing like helping someone else to take your mind off your own problems and put them in perspective. There’s also nothing as satisfying as the feeling you get when you’ve made someone else’s holiday just a little bit brighter.

Considering these ideas won’t solve your financial problems nor make the world a safer place. What they may do, however, is bring you closer to family and deepen your holiday experience. Maybe it will even put you back in touch with what these holidays are actually about: Finding gratitude for life’s many blessings and experiencing the healing that comes from reaching out to help someone else. Hope this proves to be the best Holiday Season you’ve ever had!

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