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Holidays can be the best of times, and the worst of times; they can be times of wisdom or times of foolishness; they can be the epoch of beliefs, they can be the epoch of consumerism; holidays are the season of lights during the season of darkness; holidays can be the spring of hope, or the winter of despair; we have everything before us, we have nothing before us; we are all going to consumer Heaven, or we’re all going the other way.

~Charles Dickens and Renee

Last year I read a funny post by Mark Gorkin about the 4 f’s of holiday friction. He has a great way of giving you some information while making you chuckle. His four f’s were fantasy, family, food, and finances. I’ve used his ideas and given you some food for thought—this kind of holiday food is healthy, honest!!

Santa's secret

Fantasy: Want your Christmas to look like the perfect Hallmark Christmas card? Looking for peace and joy juggling work, parties, shopping, baking, cleaning, decorating, parenting, or caring for aging parents?

The media bombards us with images of what the holidays are supposed to be like. We in turn can have some pretty high expectations of ourselves and what the holidays are supposed to be like! What helps you create a holiday that fits with your dreams and your values? What helps you do what you prefer? What helps you to plan ahead so that you have a better chance of meeting your expectations? What helps when things don’t go as planned?

Family: The holidays are ‘supposed’ to be a time to spend with family. Many families live far apart from one another and can’t get home every year. Others don’t want to go home or can’t because their parents have passed away. Our ideas of family are changing and open the doors for us to spend the holiday with people of our choosing. Who do you consider to be your family? Relatives? Extended family? Friends? What helps you feel better about either not spending time with family & friends, or spending time with family and friends? What helps you honour who you want to spend your time with over the holidays? What’s going to help you move past any guilt trips people might try on you to spend the holidays their way? How do you balance what you want and what others want?

Food: I love the food at Christmas! Give me turkey, stuffing, broccoli with hollandaise sauce, and finish it off with some chocolate Turtles. Yum, yum!! Sometimes though, the holiday food goes on and on as I attend one party after another and I have to start thinking about how much I really want that tasty morsel. How do you pull yourself away from overloading on those tasty temptations or do you think that’s necessary? What are some healthy holiday habits that you have or that you could try?

Finances: “Presence precedes presents.” Christmas seems to be the time when people can go hog wild. And there’s so much to spend money on!! Food, presents, decorations, fundraisers—the list goes on and on! How do you balance the idea of spending time with spending money? Is that an important idea for you? How do you spend money on people during the holidays in a way that helps you keep some cash in your pocket or stick to your budget? What do you do that helps you have a meaningful holiday versus a commercial one? What helps you stand up to the pressure of kids who want everything?

The holidays really can be the best of times, or the worst of times. What helps you beat holiday stress? What do you do to make it the best it can be? I’d love to hear from you!!

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