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November 28, 2021: How to Savor, Not Just Survive, The Holidays

Black Friday has become the harbinger of the holiday season, kicking off a frantic flurry of advertisements in emails, fliers and television ads, Magazines show beautifully decorated, festive homes with exquisitely set tables filled with delectable goodies. The pressure for perfection is on. Add this to the dilemma of both affording and finding gifts, the whirlwind of activities, and the dynamics of family celebrations, many find the holidays to be stressful. So how can we savor the season, while balancing our hopeful expectations with the reality of life’s challenges and demands?

“Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.”

Peg Bracken


Recognizing that “doing too much” is a stress riser, we can easily become overwhelmed with the specter of responsibilities coming with baking, decorating, shopping, sending cards, and visiting with relatives, etc. By January we are exhausted, not a positive way to begin a new year. Instead, envision what you would love to have happen and choose the most important activities and traditions. Create a priority list of what you and your family believe are the important activities and let go of the ones that aren’t.

One tradition we will keep is decorating with our granddaughters, a tree for the birds on Christmas Eve.


Rather than eliminate some of your traditions, you can still implement them, but on a smaller scale. A hand written note is a lovely addition to your Christmas cards, but you can selectively cull the recipients to encompass those you truly wish to keep connections with. While baking for some is a joy, others like me, find it overwhelming. Cookie swaps are one way to increase the variety, while a trip to the local bakery is another option. Choosing what activities you want to keep, decreases the frantic feeling of having to “do it all” and allows for more time to enjoy them.


Stress impacts our immune systems. Unrealistic expectations take away time for personal care. During the holidays, our diets and exercise routines can go by the wayside. Holiday gatherings are a trove of temptations, leading to overconsumption of alcohol and carbohydrates. We can review the consequences from past holidays and make a plan to be more mindful about how we treat our bodies. Making sure we have adequate sleep, balanced meals and some form of exercise can help minify the impact of stress. Taking time out of a busy day to be quiet, either through meditations or even a cup of tea, allows for a “time-out” from the frantic pace. Spending time in nature, either a walk outdoors or even enjoying the view from your window, can be another calming element to maintain a sense of calm and peace.

It is always relaxing to watch the birds on our deck.


Plan ahead of time how you want to spend these next four weeks. Whether you use a handwritten planner or a calendar on your phone, writing your goals and plans down will be visual display of how much you can actually accomplish without doing “too much”. Include activities that make you smile, from the laughter and sweetness of watching beloved holiday movies, to listening to its traditional music with a cup of favorite tea. Make sure you include time for self-care. Sprinkle lavender in.a hot bath, add Epsom salts, light a scented candle and you’ve created a mini-spa getaway.


When we try to create perfection in our holiday endeavors, we inevitably fall short, leading to additional distress and despair. Accept the fact that perfection is an illusion, facilitated by the airbrushing by professional photographers and enhanced by social media. Knowing that imperfection is actually normal can ease some of the pressure we place on ourselves.

“The joy of brightening other lives becomes for us the magic of the holidays.”

W. C. Jones


While the pandemic has sharply curtailed how and with whom we spend our social time, we still need to balance the impact of gatherings with the need for alone time to regroup. For some, social gatherings are exciting and energy inducers. For others they are emotionally and physically draining, especially in situations with family members who might be difficult. Once again, planning ahead on how we spend our time can ease the impact of having to be upbeat and positive in a group of others. Turning off the news ,with all of its negativity, is another way to quiet the cacophony of noise from the world.

“Christmas gives us an opportunity to pause and reflect on the important things around us.”

David Cameron


Focusing on what we are thankful for has been scientifically linked to better emotional and physical health, reduced stress and increased self-esteem and positivity. https://dreamscapejewelry.com/november-21-2021-gratitude-isnt-just-a-thanksgiving-tradition/. When life seems overwhelming, which can easily happen this time of year, take a deep breath, regroup, and reflect on what is going well in your life.

“Just remember, the true spirit of Christmas lies in your heart.”

‘The Polar Express’


Whenever I head out in the natural world with my camera, it’s with the intention to seek what is beautiful, unusual or simply wonderful. We can choose to seek out moments of joy to savor. During the coming days, we can become more aware of the moments that create a sense of contentment and happiness. It can be as simple as hanging a treasured ornament with its memories of Christmases past, or the ability to once again share a holiday meal with family and friends. If we focus on what is meaningful to our hearts, it pulls our attention to the gift of the here and now.

During the coming days and weeks, take time to savor the beauty of this season. Thank you as always for taking the time to read our blog. I invite you to share your inspirations and thoughts in the comments below and share it with someone who might find it meaningful.

In the meantime, stay healthy and safe.

Best regards, Wendy


  • MJ Finken
    November 28, 2021

    Beautifully Written. I used some of these suggestions in the past 10 days. Having company when you are not use to it can make life difficult for everyone if you don’t have some type of plan in place and a place for everyone to go to get that peace. Thankful for friends and family


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