Originally created 12/23/01

Give yourself permission to enjoy the holiday season



Christmas, like weddings and funerals, is a time when emotions can be as fragile as lace. It is easy to become so overwhelmed with obligations that patience is taxed to the extreme.

Emotions during the holiday season run the gamut, from childlike anticipation and happiness to frustration and depression. There are just as many people who dread and loathe Christmas as there are those who look forward to family gatherings and social events. Listed below are my recommendations for making the holidays flow more smoothly:

  • Focus on the people, events and situations that are positive, perceiving your cup as half full rather than half empty.
  • Accept the difficult people in your life exactly as they are. Don't try to change them, just the way you respond to them.
  • For holiday gatherings eschew jeans and paper napkins and wear your most festive holiday clothing. Bring out the silver and best china.
  • If your guests offer to bring something or help out, let them.
  • If a lot of people are opening gifts at the same time, give each of them a pad and pencil to record who gave what and a garbage bag for discarded wrapping paper.
  • If you are at a social gathering, never commit the egregious act of "double dipping." It is best to turn a chip or a shrimp in the other direction than to dip twice at the same end.
  • Do as much as you can ahead of time, leaving yourself free to enjoy your guests rather than to appear harried and make your guests feel they are imposing.
  • When setting up, think all the way through your meal so you won't have to dash about at the last minute, hunting for salt and pepper shakers or serving utensils.
  • Make sure your powder room or guest bath is clean and has the necessary supplies.
  • Show your guests where to stash coats and umbrellas.
  • If you have lost loved ones, give yourself permission to enjoy the holiday season.
  • Unwrap gifts in the presence of your guests, allowing them the pleasure of seeing your delight.
  • Never arrive at a party empty-handed. Bring a small token, even if you normally do not exchange gifts.
  • Be sure to acknowledge the hosts' efforts on your behalf.
  • Be diligent in writing thank you notes.
  • Keep in mind the true spirit of Christmas, remembering the lonely, the divorced, the bereaved and the childless. One day that person could be you.
  • Have a safe, sober and joyful holiday season.
  • Write to Ask Carson, The Augusta Chronicle, PO Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903-1928. Send e-mail to askcarson@home.com. Carson Elliott's Web site is at www.theproperthing.com.