By Mary O’Brien, M.D.
It’s almost here. The lines in stores are growing longer and the traffic is becoming heavier. Yes, it looks as if the annual Christmas crunch is upon us. Before long, tired travelers will descend upon weary relatives and everyone will feign a friendly, festive front. By the month’s end, bulging waistlines will battle burgeoning credit card bills for the top spot on the list of holiday headaches.
It seems to get worse with each passing year, and yet sensible solutions elude us. Which customs would we cut? Whose relatives would we not visit. What expenses should we forego? Is it possible just “to say no?”
In recent years, I’ve learned to do precisely that. After one too many miserable holidays attempting to accommodate everyone, I finally found a better solution. I simply do what seems — sane. Some might say my solution seems silly, but you can judge for yourself. The following are my custom-made commandments for a calm Christmas.
- Thou shalt not spend more than thou hast.
- Thou shalt do thy Christmas shopping in September.
- Thou shalt mail Christmas cards and packages early.
- Thou shalt honor thy need for quiet time.
- Thou shalt not be pressured to party.
- Thou shalt not suffer the company of negative relatives.
- Thou shalt read something inspiring each day.
- Thou shalt eat less than thou wantest.
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s decorations.
- Thou shalt do something nice for thy neighbor each day.
I’m particularly partial to that last one. How different would Christmas be, if everyone all over the world, did something unexpectedly nice for someone else everyday? Something tells me that’s a lot closer to the true meaning of Christmas than overloaded credit cards and unrestricted appetites. Silent night. Holy night. All is calm. All is bright. Maybe there’s a message in those simple lyrics. I’d like to think so.