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Monday, December 15, 2008

give yourself permission to redefine your values this holiday season

There is a spirit of change in the air, and one of the best ways to begin to create change is to let go of some of the outworn ideas and activities of the season that simply don't bring you all that much joy. One of the best ways to avoid holiday stress is to redefine what you really value about how you choose to celebrate the holidays. Consider exploring some of these questions with your kids, family, and friends, and listen to their answers with an open mind and heart. With everyone's input, you should be able to focus on those activities that matter most to you this holiday season, and drop the ones that simply aren't as important to you this year.

• What do you love most about the holiday season?
What comes to mind right away? Baking and decorating cookies for someone special? Creating and wrapping gifts? Ice skating with the kids? Decide what matters to you as a personal "kick-off" to the season. Maybe curling up by the tree with a steaming cup of hot cocoa to test the cookies? Perhaps it's having the opportunity to help others or teach your children about the true meaning of Christmas. Perhaps it's attending the school concert or children's service at your local church. Think of the things that personally symbolize the meaning of the holiday for you and your family.

• What is something that you'd prefer to put "on hold" for this year?
Maybe you enjoy baking three varieties of Christmas cookies, but just don't have the energy or financial resources to do it this year. Or perhaps you need to take a break from planning the annual holiday party at work or school. Give yourself permission to let go of a few traditions you don't feel up to this year. Be honest here. What could you live without? Perhaps it's hanging the outdoor Christmas lights, or writing cards. Determine which events are feeling more like a burden, and consider skipping them this year.

• How do you plan to reach out and help others this year, if at all?
Do you want to get the kids involved in giving this year? If so, what charities would you all like to become involved with? Talk with your children about what they feel passionate about, and look for ways to contribute by sharing your time or financial resources. Instead of organizing an office party, see if any of your co-workers would be interested in creating a charitable drive.

• How do you plan to incorporate your faith in this year's holiday celebrations?
For many people, the winter holidays present an opportunity to return to or seek out their true faith and deepen their spiritual practices. If this is something you wish to incorporate in your holiday celebration, what activities would be meaningful for you?

• What is something new that you'd like to include in your holiday celebration?
Think of a few things you've never done, but would like to try. Maybe you'd like to explore how different cultures and people of other faiths celebrate, and incorporate some of those foods and traditions in your own celebration. Perhaps you'd really like to attend midnight services on Christmas Eve, or begin a new tradition of your own.

Stay focused on what really matters to you this holiday season. It's so easy to get caught up in the business and commercialism of the holiday season and lose sight of you really want to experience. Work with your kids to be intentionally focused on what matters most to you this year, and what will bring you and your loved ones the joy and spirit of the holiday season!

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