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The holidays are here! It’s time to celebrate, visit with friends and relatives, and enjoy the traditions of the season. We all get wrapped up in the superficial activities surrounding the holidays, at one time or another, complicating our lives needlessly. This year, vow to take control of the holiday hustle and bustle to insure that you are able to truly enjoy the season with the people and activities that mean the most to you.
Keeping in mind that relationships are the key to happiness, think through how you can strengthen relationships with important people in your life this season. One way to start is by listing the activities that are typically part of your holiday season and starring those which are important to you. Then have a conversation with your family members and ask them which activities have special meaning to each of them and why. You may be surprised by their answers and that may lead you to skip, continue, or add new traditions. This may just be the start of simplifying your holidays and freeing up time for the truly important things.
Protect your time and energy by saying no to obligations that are not on your starred list and outsourcing unfulfilling tasks. Outsourcing tasks will ease your workload, freeing up your valuable resources, time and energy. Outsourcing doesn’t have to cost a lot — consider hiring a niece, neighbor or friend, or even trading work. For example, if you love baking cookies, but your neighbor doesn’t, maybe you can bake for her and she can wrap gifts for you. Consider outsourcing the following tasks (if they’re not on your starred list):
- Gift wrapping
- Putting up Christmas lights and decorations
- Cooking—make meals a potluck, have them catered or utilize your grocery’s deli
- Shopping (or shop online)
- Running errands
We’re often so programmed to be efficient with our time that we need to purposely slow down and enjoy the simple things with family members—sitting around a fire, stargazing, watching a traditional holiday movie, listening to holiday music, making a snowman or driving around looking at decorations.
Connect by bringing out the photo albums or family home movies. Holidays raise memories of how
things used to be and how they have changed. Using photos to highlight the good times you have had together as a family helps you draw closer.
Consider hosting an open house on a day other than the holiday. Invite friends and family to stop by, visit, and enjoy refreshments. This frees you and others to keep the holiday itself low-key and stress-free.
The music of the season can help us to feel connected. Many of the season’s songs we’ve sung since childhood. Keep the music alive by turning on the radio, printing lyric sheets for sing-alongs, caroling, or attending a concert and enjoying the season’s music with those closest to you.
Connect through gift giving. A simple gift of a special photo framed, an activity done together, or a card telling the person what they mean to you will be more cherished than a new video game or scarf. Sending cards is a way to let others know you are thinking of them. Adding a photo or a note is a wonderful way to let them see your changing family or share in the highlights of your year.
Technology has brought us Skype. If a loved one is far away and not able attend the festivities in person, connect on Skype so they don’t miss out.
Phone calls are still a great way to connect during the holidays. Make a list of those you’d like to talk to and then call one person each night. Not enough time now?—put the calls off until January.
Spend time together volunteering. You’ll get a great happiness boost, share your values, and make a difference in the world.
A little forethought can make this season extra special, full of meaning and connections. Enjoy!