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Holidays Survival Guide

It's the most wonderful time of the year. There are holiday decorations set up all over town, Christmas lights sparkle from trees and rooftops, and cheer is spread from one to

another as we greet each other with "Happy Holidays" and "Merry Christmas." School performances and television specials remind us of the true meaning of Christmas and the power of more giving, less wanting, and the importance of being together with friends and family. Traditions of Christmas caroling, attending holiday parties, and enjoying seasonal meals connect us with past holiday seasons and the memories that accompany. Gifts are exchanged and smiles are shared from each unwrapped present.

It's the most wonderful time of the year, but not for everyone. The winter holiday season is also known as the most stressful time of the year. With so many parties and activities going on, so much money being spent, and short days with little sunlight the holidays can really catch up with you. I am a parent and the amount of money that is needed to make it through the holidays gets to me. Presents for my children, gifts for their teachers and class parties, and costumes for Christmas programs really adds up; especially with the price tag we are seeing on both holiday gifts and everyday essentials.

So how do we shake the Bah Humbug? We get back to basics and the true meaning of the holidays. Think back on your holidays of yesteryear. You may remember a special gift or two, but I will bet your strongest memories are tied to activities not things.

  1. Make popcorn and cranberry garland. This is a great way to slow down and appreciate those close to you and all you need is some popcorn, cranberries, thread, and a needle. This garland makes a beautiful decoration and the birds and squirrels will enjoy it when you take down the decorations after the new year.

  2. Pack some holiday snacks and take a drive through neighborhoods that are well known for their holiday decorations. Make extra effort to audibally "Ooh" and "Aah" at each display; it's good to let loose and enjoy some silliness every now and then.

  3. Get a group of friends together and go caroling throughout your neighborhood or contact a local nursing home and ask if you can go door to door there. The joy you will bring to people through song will more than light up your mood.

4. Plan movie nights at home. There are so many holiday movies from classics like White Christmas (my favorite) to newer movies like Polar Express and everyone loves National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (insert favorite movie quote here). Whip up a batch of cookies, poor some glasses of milk, and settle in for an evening together with family, friends, and some holiday cheer.

It is easy to let the holidays get you down, but it is important to keep your spirit up and above all else remember the true reason we celebrate Christmas...

Luke Chapter 2:1-20 "And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them." He is the reason for the season.

Merry Christmas! May the Lord bless and keep you.

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