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Are you Normal for the Holidays?

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I started writing for the Examiner in August 2008 and have loved every minute of it. I was going back over a few articles and have realized how much I have grown and changed over the years. My writing has changed as well. I wanted to share an article I did back in December 2009 that I still think is very prevalent today.

A NORMAL CHRISTMAS

Let's start with the word "normal." I once saw a bumper sticker that read: "Normal is someone you don't know very well." This is a good thing to keep in mind especially now, when we assume that the normal people are all having happier, healthier holidays than we are. We imagine their mailboxes stuffed with Christmas cards and party invitations, their homes decorated in Martha Stewart splendor and their intact and idyllic families primed for weeks of good cheer.

I don't know these people, do you? The most effective thing you can do to reduce holiday angst is to wipe the word "normal" from your vocabulary. If normal means consistently sane, contented and capable. I have yet to meet that person. And yet most of us hold ourselves up to an unattainable standard of human perfection.

The 12th-century poet Rumi called this phenomenon the "Open Secret." He said each one of us is trying to hide the same secret from each other—not some racy or evil secret, but rather the mere fact of our flawed humanness

So, here's something you can do this holiday season: Open up your Open Secret. Overcome your embarrassment at being human, and tell a friend that you didn't get one party invitation. Maybe she will reveal the same thing, or she'll bring you to the one party on her list, or together you'll go to your local homeless shelter and help the kids decorate the tree.

Don't just say "Fine!" when a colleague asks how you are at the office party. Say, "Sometimes all this ho-ho-ho makes me feel lonely." You'll be surprised by the response. Suddenly a mere acquaintance will open up his or her secrets to you, and soon you'll feel more connected, not only to him or her, but to the real meaning of the holidays.Enjoy the communication, the love, the caring. It's not all about the price of the presents or the stress or lines at the store. It's about peace, joy, love and Christ's birth.Enjoy the Holidays and enjoy each other.

Till next time, Merry Christmas

Jennifer

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