It’s begun. The rush to the holiday season is upon us. Madness in the form of turkey recipes, shopping lines, or the perfect gift for the frenemy in the office is descending upon everyone who has enough money in their pockets to be concerned about such things.

Holiday decorations. Pies. Uncle Jack’s drinking problem and Aunt Sally’s really bad wig. Underdone turkey and burned dinner rolls. One half of the family not talking to the other half, but both halves coming to YOUR house. Working too hard at work. Not having a job to go to. Battling your own sense of entitlement while trying to curb your kids’ “gimme” attitude. Battling your sense of despair while wondering how to provide a special, memorable time for your kids when the cash isn’t there. There’s a reason the holiday season accounts for more cases of depression than any other time of year, and strangely enough a lot of it seems to revolve around the having, or the lack, of money.

I’ve got the beginning of a solution. It doesn’t matter how much money you have in your pocket; it’s not a complete solution, either, and I’m pretty sure I’ve stolen this from someone else. But it’s a start. Ready?

Breathe. Take a few deep breaths. Stop your kitchen/shopping/bill-worrying madness. Go outside, spread your arms wide, breathe deeply. Feel the sun (or, if it’s night, the chill) on your face, and give thanks for being able to breathe. If you can, get your hands into the dirt. Plant something, or pull weeds. If there’s snow where you are, burn some frustrations off by building a snowman of any size (NOT as easy as it seems). Remember, you are not your bank balance. Remember to laugh!

Next, understand your place in the world – not in “bank account” terms, but in geologic terms. The mountain you can see outside your window (or the ocean, the plain, the forest, the desert) doesn’t give a rat’s ass about your Aunt Fanny’s tendency to blurt out uncomfortable truths at the dinner table. In fifty years, will anyone still be alive to remember the upside-down pumpkin pie on the kitchen floor, or that your child dumped hot gravy down your mom’s silk dress? Um, probably not. In the grand scheme of things, and whether you’re religious or not, as the decades pass the stuff that has your guts tied up in knots today won’t matter. They just won’t.

Does that mean that what you do doesn’t matter? Of course not. Kindness wins over selfishness. Happy memories win over mere things. Love – shared, expressed, and heartfelt, wins over all the pettiness that this time of year can call out in people.

I worry. Don’t for a minute think I’m immune. I worry about what to give my family this Christmas – my boys are grown, so the toys of previous years aren’t appropriate. My hubby and I have everything we need, really. How to make this year special? I don’t know, but I’m determined to figure it out. I will never say I’m not a worrier.

But… the old adage “you can’t change the things that happen – you can only change your attitude toward them” is true. So I worry, then I put it away. Nothing I can do about it, so I look to the bright side of things. I know “the papers will show up in the mail”.  I know “you’ll get the job”. I know, deep in my heart, that what I TRULY desire, as long as I focus on having it, will come about. It may not be in the package I think it should be, but it’ll be there. All I have to do is accept it.

So what it comes down to is, you have a choice. You can handle the holidays the way you’ve always handled them – spend too much, eat too much, bicker too much, worry too much, get pulled in a dozen different directions and battered by everyone else’s opinion on how you should live your life – OR…

You can Breathe. Resolve to put worry away, even if it’s just for a few hours at a time. Share your love. Let your family, friends, heck even your boss (if it’s appropriate) know how much you appreciate them. Change your attitude about things that normally get you tense or upset (in 100 years, will this matter?!). Let loose your inner Pollyanna. If ever there’s a time to play the Glad Game, it’s now. Go around the dinner table. What are you Glad about this year? If (or when) it degenerates into a bitter-fest, sit back and laugh, because heck – why not?Wishing you love, and joy, and peace. Wishing you the perfect memories of the upcoming, imperfect, holidays. Wishing for you the gift of laughter, good health, and good friends. Sending hugs out into the world to all my friends, old, new, and not-yet-met.