by Jacquelyn J. Core JD PhD

As Christmas approaches the air is filled with the scents of cinnamon and pine, houses twinkle with seemingly never-ending strings of lights, and presents rest under our trees. It’s the most wonderful time of the year… except for the charges on your credit card, the search for the perfect present, finding the time to tackle twenty extra things on the to do list, getting all your work done so you can take a day or two off of work, and kids who are so excited they stop comprehending English. Sometimes it’s easy to wonder whether it’s all worth it, and how to survive. Here are some holiday tips to allow you to thrive through, rather than just survive though, the holiday.

Celebrate the small things. Light some holiday candles. Play carols while you do your everyday household chores or while driving. Gather around the fire. Drink cups of hot cocoa laden with peppermint sticks.

Remember the reason for the season. Go to church. Whether it is midnight mass, lessons and carols, or a Sunday service on Christmas Eve, reconnecting with your spiritual foundation is a great way to spend the holidays.

Stay the course. Even though the Holidays are upon us, don’t throw your routine out the window. Consistency can provide as much comfort as holiday merriment. You may even find some special satisfaction in keeping your routine through what can, at times, be madness.

Connect. Part of the joy of the holiday is spending time with friends and family. Don’t miss out on connecting with others. One way to stretch your time is to combine necessary holiday tasks with time with family and friends. My mother and I always shop on black Friday. It’s one of my favorite days of the year, not because of the shopping, but because we always spend that day together. Janet and I try to schedule a wrapping day where we can drink coffee, listen to carols, spend time, and get the presents wrapped… as a bonus we get a chance to use paper and ribbons we would not otherwise have.

Be Guilt Free. No holiday is perfect. No one has unlimited funds. And there is only so much time in one holiday season. Focus on gifts that are thoughtful rather than expensive. Set a budget and stick to it. And don’t be ashamed to add yourself to your own Christmas list. Every year I am single I buy myself a gift. I rationalize that if I was in a relationship I would spend that money (at least that much) on someone else, and I would get a gift from my partner. No partner? No problem. To: Me With much love from: Me. Wrap your head around not being able to be everywhere. You can’t clone yourself. Decline with regrets if necessary.

Everyone understands the nature of holiday obligations. Christmas, like every day, is a great day for radical self care. Don’t short change yourself in your holiday process. Be sure to take time to enjoy the season. It’s your holiday too.