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What the holidays taught us

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With the holiday season just about behind us—thankfully (or am I alone in this?)—some of us faced struggles, the opportunity to learn new things and reminders of philosophies our higher self knows, but that our mortal self may have forgotten. Here’s to accessing these with quicker clarity throughout the new year.

1. It is alright to go with your conscience and “wing it” in terms of where to spend the holidays. Sometimes, family tradition just doesn’t fit into the plans, especially when you factor in marriages, extended family, divorced parents and travel plans, among other things. If you have to break your attendance from a dependable holiday function, it is fine, even if you feel terribly guilty about doing so. Be sure to explain to family, or the host, the reason you cannot attend, as opposed to avoiding the topic. Although they may not agree or approve, at least they will understand.

2. Stressing about things going well doesn’t make it fun for anyone. Go with the flow. Worrying about everything getting done does not get things done. You do. You know all you need to complete and will get it done. Consider asking friends or family for help, slimming down the holiday menu so that it is manageable and/or decorating/cooking/shopping early so that you are not overwhelmed once the tidal wave of the holidays is upon us.

3. When wrapping gifts, being eco-friendly is a good, and financially sound, thing. Whether or not you consider yourself eco-friendly, you probably like saving time and money, especially during the financial hemorrhage of the holidays. Save reusable gift and wine bags, tissue, bows and ribbons and gift card boxes and keep them for next year. This also applies to wrapping from other gifts exchanged throughout the year. Chances are people will not remember that these are reused (or if they were even the ones that gave them to you in the first place). This will help to save you the cost of buying these items new (again) while you do your part to help minimize waste.

4. It might be time to tone down your gift list. As times get tougher, families get bigger and our homes are bursting with stuff, you may notice that the number of gifts you receive has decreased. Take this as a cue, and cross a few names off your shopping list, in kind, or minimize the number of items you buy. The same goes for co-workers. Unless you are working in a very small organization, it might be too large an undertaking to expect to buy gifts for all coworkers. Slim down your list, where possible. This is not rude or mean. Between differing tastes, and overflowing storage, this may be more appreciated than not.

5. Find alternatives to giving “stuff”. Akin to the point in number 4, a good alternative to giving actual items that a person may or may not use, or may return, is to give baked goods (if you are not the best of bakers, then purchase items from a favorite bakery and arrange in a gift box, or give as-is), homemade granola, flavored cooking oils (which can be made at home—find recipes online) or homemade candy or candles along with a gift card chaser. These also allow your creativity to get a work out in arranging presentation.

6. Family can be so challenging, but we love them anyway! For being the closest folks to us, family can also sometimes feel like the biggest group of strangers. But, that is all part of the package in the history we have with them. These are the people we chose to come into this life experience with and learn from. Keep that in mind when dealing with the frustrating moments and appreciate what you have learned from, or in spite of, them.

Happy New Year.

May you travel light, live light, spread the light and be the light. (Yogi Bhajan)

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