The holidays are finally upon us. And for most of us, it’s a really exciting time.

I say “most of us” because I can remember a time in my own life when the holidays were not something I looked forward to — not even remotely. I was in the food business for 25 years. And for all but two of those years, I was responsible for planning, inventory, ordering, and managing all the things it takes for people to have the huge holidays they expect and all the delectable goodies that come from their kitchens.

So basically … the holidays were a massive headache for me.

I didn’t like them. It was a very busy time. It was all work, and I had little time to just enjoy my own family and friends. This was all true despite my faith and spiritual beliefs and how I’d been told my entire life that this was a wonderful time for celebrating and being grateful for all that God has done.

It wasn’t until after I was out of the grocery business that I realized how I should have adjusted my attitudes and emotional well-being in the face of this busy time.

Five Ways to Enjoy Your Holidays – no matter what

Here are five ways I learned that I could have been enjoying the holidays all along and how we all can plan for and be more successful about enjoying the next couple of months:

  • Be present— This was my biggest mistake. There were plenty of things in my life to enjoy, such as parties, decorating, good food with friends, spiritual renewal at church, and other gatherings and fun. Looking back, the problem was that when I was doing all of these things, I was stuck thinking about all the things I had been doing and still needed to do. It was all about what was “next on my to-do list” rather than just being present and in the moment.
  • Be grateful — We’ve talked quite a bit about generosity, gratefulness, and appreciation in our library of blog posts. One of the best things we can do for our hearts this holiday season is to leave behind the past and press forward into all of the wonderful blessings we have in our lives. I believe it takes an intentional, active attitude to look for and find things to be grateful for. There are so many of them, and they’re all around us. We just need to see them.
  • Create some margin — Just like anyone else, Susan and I are busy. There are many things we need and want to do. But it goes without saying that all of us need more margin in our lives. We all can make choices that change the way we experience different situations in our lives. When we’re moving too fast and have an overwhelmed feeling of all that there is to accomplish, it’s much more difficult to manage our emotions, thoughts, and even how we treat other people.
    • Building in some margin is critical. And to help, maybe you should view “margins” as “boundaries.” I see boundaries as a way to protect ourselves from stress and conflict. As an example, many people have difficulty with their extended families during the holidays. And it can take a lot of emotional energy to deal with some personalities. So perhaps preparing in advance, knowing your limits, and having a game plan for what you will do and say in certain circumstances can add to the joy of the season and eliminate undue stress.
  • Get some rest — Everyone could stand to get more rest, especially during the holidays. But generally, we don’t need as much physical rest as we do mental and emotional rest. It isn’t physical fatigue or stress that gets us in the most trouble with our words and actions. The body needs rest; the brain needs sleep. Many of us struggle with this a lot. Create margins and good boundaries to take care of ourselves means we can enjoy the holidays even more.
  • Practice restraint — Discipline during the holidays seems to be a real problem for me because I want to do it all, enjoy it all, and partake in it all. But that’s not too good for my body and brain. Food, drink, and fun can be overdone easily! I always feel better when I practice some restraint during the holidays. And I bet you do, too.

All we are saying here is that the holidays are meant to be a time to celebrate, relax, and enjoy precious time spent with friends and family.  Often, we get caught up in the things that aren’t going well for us — our growing to-do lists, trouble at work, etc. All of that stuff isn’t as important as enjoying this holiday season.

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Did we leave anything out? How are you planning to take more advantage of the upcoming holiday season? Do you welcome the opportunity to rest, and are you focusing on what’s best for your relationships? If not, how do you plan to fix it? Please send us a quick email and help us keep this conversation going at