Throw Out Fifty Things

The Reader's Digest invited me to write a blog about how to make this holiday season less stressful. Check out there are lots of good tips from various experts on the site. The piece, which I’ve included below, was fun to write. I just asked myself what were all the dumb things I do over the holidays that drive me - and everyone around me - crazy... and decided to toss them out this year! You can do the same. Read on...

8 Things To Throw Out This Season

Okay, the “Holiday Hysteria” is setting in, isn’t? And it’s even worse this year, right? Funny how less money makes more stress. But wait. Maybe we should stop worrying about decking the halls and start concentrating on clearing the decks. What if instead of getting more stuff, we throw stuff out? No, I’m not talking about all those magazines and catalogs, those dried up tubes of Krazy Glue and that stuff in the kitchen drawer – although that would be good, too. I’m talking about throwing out all that mental and emotional clutter that saps our energy, wreaks havoc with our ho, ho, ho and makes us – and everyone around us – go crazy.

So here’s a list of 8 “things” to throw out this season. And I guarantee that if you throw this stuff out, not only will your yuletide be merry and bright but you’ll waltz into the New Year with all flags flying.

1. Let go of “perfect.” Forget about it. Forget about the “perfect gift,” the “perfect dinner” or the “perfect tree.” We lose “good” on the way to “perfect.” Besides, perfectionism is highly overrated. Let it go.

2. Throw out being “right” about how wrong it all is. You know what I mean. Your mother-in-law is “wrong” to give you yet another sweater, your husband is “wrong” to have overcooked the turkey and your daughter’s “wrong” to have spent so much on her gifts. Dump it.

3. Let go of thinking you have to do everything yourself. Not only will you be exhausted, you’ll act like a martyr. Nobody wants to hang out with a martyr. Ask everyone, including the kids, to help. It’s a lot more fun. You’re not alone. Don’t act like it.

4. Let go of comparing yourself to other people. Stop thinking how much better their tree is, their gifts are, their food is, or how much better behaved their children are. (Or their dog.) It doesn’t matter. There’s only one thing that matters: being together.

5. Let go of making things hard. I don’t know why but smart people make things really complicated. Don’t do it. Ask yourself, “How really simple, and totally easy could I make this?” Then follow your own direction. Your family will love you for it.

6. Let go of feeling bad about the things you can’t do or can’t buy this year. Enough already with being down in the mouth! Concentrate on what you can do. Start new traditions that are short on cost and long on feeling…like writing notes to the people you love and telling them why.

7. Let go of the old grudges. Okay, so your best friend ran off with your best client – 5 years ago. Or your brother got the bike you wanted for Christmas - when you were kids. Or your sister refused to let you borrow her new suit for your job interview – six months ago. Take a deep breath and say “buh-bye.”

8. Let go of assuming that it’ll never be as good as it used to be. This is big. If you can do this, you can be happy. This is the perfect time to create new criteria for what’s really important in our lives. The fact is, our greatest work, our greatest joys, our greatest discoveries are ahead of us. They always are. But of course, ya gotta look for ‘em.

No, this is not the season to go crazy. Unless it’s crazy with love and delight - and funny, poignant memories. This is the season we’ve been waiting for. It’s time to turn the corner, look up not down and let go of anything that could dim our spirits. So dump all that negative stuff, okay? Not later. Now. Hey, look, you’re smiling already…

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