We are all in touch with some of the downsides of Christmas holidays—spending money, others’ expectations, travel hassles, relatives we may prefer not to hang out with, and the ending of the year with its accomplishments and intentions, met or unmet.
I’m convinced that if you follow these 7 practices, you’ll look back with delight on this December.
1) Please yourself. Make a list of something special you will do just to please you for each week this month. It could be a Holiday Music Fest, Zoo Lights, driving or busing around neighborhoods with especially lovely decorations, or making brownies and eating 1 a day till they’re gone. How about reading a book every day for an hour, or napping, or just looking out the window from your favorite viewpoint—at home, or 25 stories up. Maybe you’d enjoy visiting a new church or community center or open house. Add your choice to your schedule and take it as seriously as any other item on your list.
2) Get gifts you want. Ask those who give you gifts to share what they’d like, and tell them 3 or 4 presents you would welcome. It is a stress reliever to know you and they will receive a gift they’d truly like. Hearing an animated “Oh, wow!” or “Just what I wanted!” is so much more welcome than a perfunctory “Thank you” that may or may not be meant. If they’d prefer a gift card to Home Depot or Target, how wonderful not to rack your brain for the jacket or perfume or concert tickets you hope they’ll like.
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3) Support a cause. Contribute $10 to $100 to a cause you believe in, whether Doctors Without Borders, Salvation Army, Cancer Society, or any charity you know makes a difference. Not only does that remind you that you’re not as broke as you may have told yourself, it also gives you 1 or more things to be grateful for as you distinguish “have-to-gifts” from “I’m glad I can do this” gifts. You can come up with the money by walking instead of busing or driving, drinking 1 less latte a week, or cutting out other self-indulgences for the sake of indulging others.