1. Embrace the joy of the season

    I still love the ornaments from our first treeI love this time of year. For a few weeks I can almost forget my dislike of the cold.  I cook and bake. The sweet, spicy scents fill my kitchen evoking wonderful memories. I enjoy spending time in my kitchen and find it relaxing. I assure you if I didn’t, I would buy one of the many lovely boxes of holiday cookies and serve them instead. 

     I believe less is more when it comes to holiday delicacies, unlike our mothers and aunts. I don’t feel compelled to fill my house with sweets and treats. We enjoy special meals and desserts as part of our celebration, but we also try not to gain five pounds between Christmas and the New Year. We still mange to enjoy the season. A two-week buffet spread of cookies and candy is one tradition we don’t miss.

    Even though we have no children, we still decorate. We have a tree and enjoy decorations we have collected over the years. I still remember buying some of them at Ogilvy’s, my favorite Montreal department store, when we were first married. A friend visiting for the first time a few Christmases ago was delighted by our holiday decor, but surprised that we would bother — for just “us”. It pleases us. If you enjoy it, go for it. If you feel that would like to scale back on decorating or entertaining, suit yourself, but celebrate!
    Except for the last few years, my husband and I always had big holiday parties for 35 to 50 people. We had wonderful parties in several cities, including Moscow. The Russian capital was an especially fun at the holidays. We would have our holiday party right before most to our friends left to celebrate at a sunnier destination. We scaled back when we resettled in a new city, but still found new friends to host at the holidays.
    We love to entertain, it’s our nature. But it’s not for everyone.  After a big party, many guests have awkwardly said to me, “Gracey, I can’t do what you do and have big party." So what! We are all different! Not everyone needs to be a hostess. Be a great guest, if that is your forte. Reciprocate some other way. But, celebrate!
    If you have children, make something special with them, or bake. Make your own new traditions, or share an old family one that you truly love. Children love to make crafts and will cherish the memories for years. Stock up on supplies now for those lovely days between Christmas and New Year’s. Forget bargains and malls, cozy up with projects and fun! This can be fun for adults too – or borrow a child. Use the holidays to visit, read, creative and renew!
    Inhale the season’s goodness and merriment with candles and the scent of pine. It will soon be gone. Whatever your beliefs or situation find a reason to be grateful and celebrate. Life is short my darlings, make it sweet. Let go of things and traditions that make you crazy — be thoughtful and kind instead. It works better. Don’t worry about gifts you can’t afford. Scale back, buy smaller or fewer. Don’t worry that anyone will care. Write great cards. Consider ecards for much of your list. Save trees and save postage. Be creative, kind, and send joy over the net!
    Embrace traditions that work for you. Find and share the joys of season. Shine your light and welcome the New Year with hope, love, and gratitude. Happy holidays to all of my darlings!