Tis the season! To help our readers navigate the holidays, we checked in with local Holiday Expert and Author Candice Smith from Hopatcong for some helpful tips.
Here is the first of the series. Enjoy!
By Candice Smith: Whether you love the busy Christmas/Holiday season or merely tolerate it, it's here. Rather than be at odds with this time of year, find ways to immerse yourself in the joys of the season. Like anything in life, you have two choices, enjoy or be miserable.
This season can be rough for many who are struggling financially, with powerful, sad memories from the past, or the loss of a loved one. But this is a season of charity, family time (and friends can certainly be counted as family), optimism for a new year, and a time to focus on one's spirituality.
Try something small at first - put on a festive article of clothing for when you leave for work. A red necktie (or a Christmas tie if appropriate), jingle bell necklace, or red and green ensemble, or at least some festive socks, will make people smile. It's an easy gesture that simply adds joy to the season.
Wish everyone you see a "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" with a warm and sincere smile. You'll be delighted to see the genuine smile and greeting that is returned to you!
Feeling overwhelmed by responsibility? Try a new perspective. Instead of "I have to cook, shop, bake, give, etc." say, "I am privileged/fortunate/lucky to do these things." Change the narrative in your head.
If you need help, ASK for it. Hosting responsibility all yours? Give up the control and ask each guest to bring something. Who cares if the pumpkin pie or cookies are store bought, it's one less thing on your to-do list.
Don't like to trim the tree? Have a party and let your guests do it. Same can be done to UN-trim the tree. Food can be take-out or leftovers, or a potluck.
Feeling down, missing loved ones who have passed? Christmas lost its shine and meaning? Volunteer to collect toys for needy children, volunteer at a soup kitchen, or raise money for a local charity. By getting involved in helping those in need you take the spotlight off of your plight and use your skills and strength to help others.
But don't ignore your feelings. If you miss someone, talk about them. Reminisce, cry, include their memory in your celebrations. Grieving has NO TIME LIMIT. There are people who will listen and take your lead.
Christmas and the Holidays are filled with lights, music, laughter, and tears. It is an emotional time that spans the extremes. You could become a hermit until the final strains of "Happy New Year" are silenced, or you could become an active part of the season.
I hope you choose to participate.
For more stories, tips, gift guides, recipes, menus, party ideas, and so much more, please order your copy of Christmas Candi: A Guide to Year-round Holiday Bliss available on Amazon. Written by Candice Smith, Hopatcong resident since 2003, Hopatcong Board of Education trustee, and parent of 3 Hopatcong Borough School children.
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