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Advance thinking enhances holiday experience

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The holidays, the time between Thanksgiving eve and New Years Day, is a time “of going with the flow” for most men.   
Women have a different outlook. It is a time for lots of work and stress involving cookies, cards, presents, decorating, dinners, schedules of dinner parties – wow! Where is January?
Some years ago, I decided to take the stress out of my holidays so I could enjoy the special events that add a sparkle to our holiday season. My first decision was to consider what the holiday means and what I could do to improve it. That is when I realized if I want this Christmas to be the best Christmas ever; next year I will have to make it even better than this year.  
Out doing my self every year sounded like a tremendous job and leaves no room for simple traditions.  I then decided nothing has to be perfect and if some things do not get done, it will leave something to be done next year.
Next I prioritized my list of things to do. I look closely to decide what is necessary and what I can manage to take off the list.  That was not easy.  But it worked.  
Christmas cards are not as popular as they used to be, I think this is because people send e-mail Christmas letters.  However, there are some people to whom I send Christmas cards. Knowing that the card list rarely changes, I started addressing the envelopes in July or August. This gives a cool feeling to those hot summer days! By the middle of November, I have the Christmas letter written and the cards are ready to mail before Thanksgiving.   
Shopping for gifts is another area that I have learned to start on long before the famous “Black Friday.” This eliminates the need to stand in long lines. If it comes to getting more rest or baking another batch of cookies or bread for an occasion, and I am really getting tired, I buy a box of “Debbie Cakes” and get the rest.  
Prepare ahead of time those items that steal the time for enjoyment. Sounds easy? With practice it can be.
I know advice is always easier to give than to practice, but once long ago, my aunt told me to take five minutes a day and do something I enjoy. In doing this the entire holiday season, I did not only feel better but I enjoyed it more. I struggled for that five minutes a day, for about the first two weeks and then I started looking forward to my time. Yes, my aunt was correct; those five minutes a day improved my outlook.  
Combining all the changes I made for the month of November and  December, I went from “Oh no! Here are the holidays again,” to really looking forward to this special time of the year, when generosity, joy and excitement fill the air.  

Joan Pomeroy
Waxahachie, Texas
(Formerly Los Alamos)