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Holi-DAZE
Karyn Ruth White, Laugh and Learn Productions

The holidays, a time of joy, peace and good will towards men and women right? Then why is it that every year so many of us have one dickens of a time getting into the true holiday spirit. Why are the holidays a time of heightened stress and increased suicide? I have a few ideas and tips I###d like to share with you that have helped me "get a grip" during this hectic time:

  1. Take personal inventory. What do the holidays really mean to you? Not what are they are "supposed" to mean, but what do they truly mean to you.
  2. What is it that fills your heart with the spirit of this season? Are you doing enough of it?
  3. Take time to look at your present holiday traditions. How many of your traditions have you personally started and how many have been externally influenced?
  4. Look at how you typically spend your time during this season. Do you spend it getting into the feel and spirit of the season, or do you spend it frantically in the mall?
  5. How do you spend your money during this season. For most of us the answer is quickly, not, wisely or creatively.
  6. Are you using all of your resources, i.e. your creativity as well as your wallet.
  7. Are you giving gifts that you are excited about giving, or are you just going through the motions and fulfilling expectations?
  8. Are you lending your time or support to any needy cause?
  9. How do you define giving?
  10. Is there a better way?
Take a moment to go through this list and see what kinds of answers you come up with. You may be surprised to see that you have just automatically been going through the holidays without much forethought or meaning.

We have become a society of "buyaholics," buy, buy, buy and don###t ask why. I made the decision that I will no longer use my credit cards during the holiday season. This forces me to plan a little more and use my money more wisely. It also helps me to look for other alternatives to giving other than the traditional last minute gift. The true reward is, that come February, I am not buried in debt. Now that feels like Christmas! The holidays shouldn###t leave you with a bad aftertaste. Learn to work within your budget and get creative!

It has always amazed me how we think giving a personally handmade gifts doesn###t "really" count and then we run out and spend big money on someone else###s handicrafts.

After reflecting on the above questions I came to some interesting conclusions. First and foremost I have decided to go with my instincts during the holidays and not place unrealistic expectations on myself.

I have also decided that I will no longer purchase anything out of obligation. I only give gifts to people I really care about. I have also stopped trying to impress. I don###t care about buying the most expensive present, the only test is that it must come from my heart, then it is truly a gift.

I have decided to embrace my own personal Christmas traditions. Some of my traditions include stringing popcorn and cranberries. I always string extra strands and put them on the trees outside on Christmas eve. That way the birds get to wake up to a Christmas surprise. Another tradition is that every Christmas Eve I watch It###s A Wonderful Life. This movie always reminds me of how lucky I am and that life and health are truly the most important gifts, after that everything else is just gravy.

I have decided that every year I will attend a least one school-sponsored holiday production and go to at least one craft fair. These are the places I really feel the spirit and they remind me of the old-fashioned values and meaning of Christmas, much more than the 20 foot tree in the mall.

This year I have decided to focus outward in my giving rather than just on immediate friends and family. I am starting to carry single bills in my pocket. If a street person approaches me and I feel like helping them, I have a bill handy rather than having to open my purse in the middle of a crowded street. I have also decided to go outside of myself and my immediate circle this year and help a family.

Last year my friend Carol adopted a family. She is a gourmet cook and she prepared a Christmas dinner for a single mom and her children. Carol didn###t want this woman to feel uncomfortable about thanking her, so she just rang the bell and left this exquisite meal with all the trimmings on her porch.

I am always so touched by the kindness of people during this season. We live in a world that is sometimes so harsh and cruel that I hold on dearly to the stories that touch my heart and fill my spirit. One of my favorite sayings is "You can not erase the dark, but you can add to the light."

This holiday season let us all take a moment to shed some of that light on how to better enjoy the true spirit of a time of joy and peace and giving.

Karyn Ruth White, owner of Denver-based Laugh and Learn Productions, is a speaker and trainer in the areas of Humor, Empowerment and Service. She can reached at 303.369.8277.