Skip to main content

It can be the most wonderful time of the year

Enjoy the season.
Enjoy the season.

Several years ago, at the end of spring, a friend of mine was diagnosed with a type of cancer that sees few survivors after six months. One of the very first goals she created for herself was to “make it to the holidays.” She celebrated Christmas that year and the year following and succumbed to the disease in December of 2007. I share this to illustrate how meaningful the season is for so many. It gave my friend an objective – not because she wanted to endure them, or make it through the holidays – but because she wished to bask in their glow and savor the added tokens of affection they offered. She hoped to enjoy the warmth and love that are so often on display, more so during December than any other month of the year.

Yet heading toward January, doctors see more patients than ever. It’s a perfect storm, of sorts. December is the beginning of the regular flu season; individuals have deductibles to consider and an insurance maelstrom to address before New Year’s Day. But stress remains a huge factor, however anecdotally, in why so many get so rundown. Often, we find the holidays to be insane. Again, let’s remind ourselves that’s it’s not supposed to be this way. My late friend adored Christmas because she believed it really was “the most wonderful time of the year”.

Make it that way, and create memories for your children that won’t land them on the psychiatrist’s couch when they’re older. (“Doctor, I just remember my mother hiding in the closet a lot around the holidays. She’d usually bring a box of red wine in with her and when she’d come out the next day, her teeth would be stained and she’d be mumbling something about the baby Jesus and some girl named Virginia. It scared my brother and I so much, we couldn’t wait for Christmas to be over.”)

Some ideas:

Just like in the movies, light some candles and take a bath. You’ll probably have to wait until the kids are in bed, but ooooooh, it’s worth the wait. Sure, there are cards to be written and presents to be wrapped, but leave that for half an hour. Add bath salts, some music even, a glass of wine if you drink (not the whole bottle) and you WILL NOT regret doing this. Everything you do afterwards, even if it’s just going to bed, will be easier.

Throw the kids in the car and go see some Christmas lights. If you get stuck in traffic heading for Griffith Park (get there early), just breathe and ask the kids questions like, “Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?” or “What’s your favorite holiday song?” And then make them sing it. Some of the lyrics they come up with are hysterical. (A lot of neighborhoods are known for really doing up the lights on their houses. Check out Candy Cane Lane in Woodland Hills; Christmas Tree Lane in Altadena; Toluca Lake.)

Two Christmas boat parades in the Southland this weekend: the Naples Christmas boat parade in Long Beach and the Newport Beach boat parade.

The Music Center Holiday Sing-A-Long is this evening downtown. It’s free, around the Music Center tree, but tickets are required. Check out the site.

“Frosty the Snowman” is on CBS tonight at 8pm. You want to watch it as much as your kids. was kind enough to break down the holiday movies on television and give us the whole schedule up until the big day. Thanks.

Read the “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” letter to yourself or with your children. It’ll make you feel good inside.

Put the children to bed and watch “Love, Actually” with your spouse/partner/friend. This is quickly becoming a must-see every holiday season. Your local Blockbuster or Video West should have it. Netflix always does.

Listen to music. There are two gazillion holiday songs available by three gazillion artists, but Vince Guaraldi’s Charlie Brown Christmas is required, as is The Andy Williams Christmas Album. Relax with “A Celtic Christmas II” from Windham Hill (better than the first) and “December” by George Winston, also from Windham Hill. Say what you want about Celine Dion’s Vegas period, but her rendition of “Oh Holy Night” takes the cake. I could go on…

What doesn’t get done, doesn’t get done. Take the time to make cookies with your children, knowing that the memory of gingerbread in the oven is one they will not soon forget.

Come visit me also at


  • Janet 5 years ago

    I love your illustration of the Mommy in the closet. Funny stuff! I am listening to the soundtrack of Polar Express as I write this and feeling very blessed.
    Thank you!

  • Francie 5 years ago

    I feel so incredibly lucky to be making memories of a lifetime this week in New York City. That we could just have the means to do this is an amazing gift, and now that we're here, everyday is just as magical as the next. Ice skating at Rockefeller Plaza was like sliding into a fairy tale. I welled up as a glided around the rink to Christmas music playing loudly through speakers surrounding the rink. The great Christmas tree on the Plaza, clam chowder at Dean & Deluca, a Broadway show, the subway to Soho w/out getting lost, seeing the shops on 5th Ave., riding in a bicycle taxi in a snow storm & arriving at the theater just in time for West Side Story, and walking 12 blocks back to our hotel in a blizzard. My 14 year old daughter and I will never forget our week in New York City just before Christmas.