1. Have realistic expectations. Don’t sentimentalize old memories too much. And don’t go the other way either, replaying empty, depressing memories of the past. Content yourself with reality.

2. Give to others, without expecting anything in return—especially appreciation. Let that be a pleasant surprise, and give just for the pure joy it.

3. Dust off two or three good holiday memories as annual keepers, and make at least one good new one this year.

4. Take time to slow down. Smell the candles and cookies. Look at the houses all lit up.

5. Expand your family of origin, to include a family of choice too. Invite friends over, and treat them like family should be treated.

6. Believe in holy spirit. If believe seems too strong and absolute for you, pretend that holy spirit once did take up full residence in a human being, and is still doing it. When you act like something’s true, it begins to feel true, which will get you into the Christmas spirit for real.

7. Believe in saints, not ghosts. If you think people’s spirits can hang around and affect other people after they’ve died, don’t look back at the Scrooges of Christmas past. Look at Jesus. Believe or pretend that for a week and see how it goes.

8. Act out forgiveness. Forget about trust, just wish a meanie well. It’s your gift to God and yourself even more than to the one who hurt you.

9. Go outside where it’s quiet and natural. Wrap up real good, and stay out long enough to take it in, letting it take you in too.

10. Make the New Year a new kind of year. Write down three ways you could do this, and ask three people to help you with these changes.


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Dr. Paul F. Schmidt