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The holiday seasons seem to come earlier each year…or maybe just faster. Whatever the case, I’m determined to experience what it offers with the least amount of stress I can. Here are a couple ideas I’ve found helpful to make the season calmer and more serene.

First, do you remember when you would anticipate the holidays with the excitement of the unknown? You knew there would be some kind of good that would present itself. Part of that excitement was the fact that you did not know exactly what would happen. Go there again. Give up knowing how things are ‘supposed to’ turn out. Allow yourself to suspend judgment and pre-determined outcomes of the day. Let yourself be surprised by life! Sit back in childlike wonder and fresh attention to all holiday gatherings. Marvel at the synchronicity of life.

Second, as you allow yourself to be okay with the not knowing, trust that only good will present itself. See the good everywhere. See it in the aunt or uncle that has been distant, ask them what’s been happening in their lives. See the good in the guests who come to your home or that special gathering and offer their help with dinner preparations, even though they don’t know where any dish or utensil is located. See the good in the cousin or nephew who wants to debate every play of the football game, especially if your team is losing. See the good in the after-meal mess and leftovers, even if you’re the only one cleaning up. See the good in all the people who have chosen to come together during this special time, even if this is the only time of year they do it. See the good.

Third, come with a heart filled with love. Release all habits of controlling every aspect of the day, every minute of chaos, and every second of the conversation. Let this be a year of observation, listening, service and devotion. If you don’t have the opportunity to discuss every bit of news you came to share, then contact that person again, later, and do it. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see them again anyway, maybe one-on-one, or speak to them on the phone? Make a date to spend time catching up with them, sharing more deeply and earnestly than is possible at a large family gathering. You will both surprise and delight them with the added attention of your interest in their lives. It can truly be a way to bond and grow closer as a family or friend. Feel the love.

Finally, I highly recommend an ‘attitude of gratitude’ – for Thanksgiving, the holidays that follow, or anytime – whether you spend them alone, with one person, or many others. Stay in gratitude for the family you have now and the ancestors that gave you a life path to this moment. Stay in thanksgiving for the abundance that provided you the means by which you are able to read these words. Continue to show appreciation to all who have participated in providing whatever meal you’re able to enjoy on these special occasions, for the transportation that got you there, or the home in which you’re hosting it. Gratitude creates an atmosphere to attract more good into your life.

These are all simple things to do. Whether it’s sharing a meal, grabbing a cup of coffee, or exchanging a present – appreciate that life is offered to you without any strings attached. The fun part is, the more you practice these concepts and the more you give them away, you may not only surprise a few people, you will get back so much more than you give. And what a gift that will be!

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