I remember when I worked as a respiratory therapist at a teaching hospital the holidays were always when we worked to get so many patients well enough to go home. It seemed for every one that we sent home 2 were admitted.

I also remember my mom always struggling to "keep it all together" during the holiday season and often having hospital stays sometime in the month of December.

It seems many of us struggle to keep our psyche on point during the spirit of the season. Stress comes from so many different places making it often hard to juggle. Money, family, being "Martha Steward" and so much more are elevated expectations during what is supposed to be a season of joy.

How to manage it all without stress is a huge concern for a lot of us. Stress is the #1 killer and trigger for all of us especially those living with disease. Sadly for many it is what manifests disease especially during the holiday season. Managing the holiday spirit is important for both our mental and physical well being. This blog is all about ways to handle the holidays so you can jingle all the way.

The 1st thing is we once again need to wake the fuck up and get conscious about what the holiday spirit really is. From Thanksgiving to Christmas life is not the Hallmark consumer driven idea of holiday spirit. Gifts under the tree & cookie exchanges are not what the holidays are about. These are the consumer driven holidays. The autopilot holiday cheer.

The core of the holiday season is to have joy in life, good will toward men and gratitude for family/friends. Nothing that costs a damn penny & all are intention based actions.

Sorry folks it is not packages under the tree. The Grinch, A Charlie Brown Christmas & the movie It's a Wonderful Life are great reminders of the true spirit of the season. Somehow we all watch them year after year then walk away writing our wish list for Santa. WTF?!?

I am not blind to the cultural norms of the holiday season as outlined above. I am also not so silly that I would say it is hard not to get sucked into the rat race of holiday bliss, but nothing worth anything in life is easy. Instead I ask all of you to ask & answer some real questions that result in action.

Leading by example I would like to share how over the years especially during the years my kid lived with me how we were able to navigate the true meaning of good will toward men.

Cooking: It's a family affair. Whoever said one person cooks while everyone else eats is an ass. Cooking is the foundation of wellness & all about what fuels our body. Cooking consciously especially during the holiday season offers the perfect time to up the volume as a collective. Many of us bake holiday treats or huge party meals & this offers the best platform ever to put some holiday music on, pour a cup of bone broth (chocolate by ancient nutrition is like cocoa), grab the entire household & share in the magic of food. As a collective, a unit & a family of cooks. No one ever said they hated cooking during the holidays together yet somehow this tradition most often falls on the shoulders of one.

Shopping: It is not the how of shopping that is unconscious so often (this would actually be another blog). It is the who of shopping that needs a conscious check-in. Introducing the idea of shopping for someone who needs a hand should be at the TOP of all of our lists. When we sit on Santa's lap we should tell him 1st how we want to help others in need. Not a list of 10+ things we don't need. I simply do not find age an excuse here. Sorry not sorry.

When my kid was living at home each year we made our gifts for the family/friends we held dear while also adopting boys who were released from detention centers into the care of a ministry. They literally had only what was on their backs when they came out. The young men would give us a list of needs from underware to PJ's, books, shoes & more. As a family we would shop, wrap & on Christmas eve deliver boxes upon boxes of gifts to be put under the tree. When Christmas morning came each boy had a delivery from Santa and his elves. Today I am proud to say my daughter continues this tradition & instead of buying gifts to exchange with her boyfriend. They opt to continue the true meaning of the season based on years of a tradition that changes the giver and receives life.

Decorating & more: What happen to stringing popcorn & cranberries? What happen to going door to door caroling? Roasting chestnuts & so much more? Once again when my kid was young these were the things we loved the most about the season. Simple things that involved making spirits bright as a collective. Our tree & holiday decorating was an example of history, community & familial love. Not Martha Stewart has arrived in our home.

One year we got married in our home at the time on December 14th and the wedding florist decorated the banister. Every year from that Christmas forward we would spend time recreating as a family. It would often take days to complete this holiday tradition that was a symbol of when our family started. This more than the tree was the joy of the season for us because as a collective we were reminded of the special day we became one. The decorations were about union & togetherness having nothing to do with Martha.

Reflection: Since childhood I have used the month of December to reflect on the current year while contemplating the coming year. New Years resolutions are a thing for me & growth toward a better me a conscious effort. To simply have one year end and another begin without consciousness to me would symbolize a life not lived.

We all need to pause. We all need to aspire. We all need to believe in our ability to reach for our dreams.

Vision boarding has been my favorite tool & there are many others that can help inspire you to tap your BAM. The consumer driven nature of the holidays should not overshadow that a year is ending and another beginning. Never should a year simply come & go without ownership & reflection with measurable goals.

When the holidays are filled with the true spirit of the season stress is gone.

There is no stress in being a collective cook. There is no stress in caroling for a few neighbors. There is no stress in thinking about how to be the best you & what your future holds. There is only stress when we attach ideals of expectations which once again are cultural norms having nothing to do with the spirit of the season.

Isn't it time you got your real jingle on & stopped the holiday spirit that is filled with expectations, worry & for many of us debt?

I believe in you. Personally I wish you & yours the holiday season we all deserve: one filled with love, light and togetherness.

The Christmas Song: The Grinch
"Fahoo Fores Dahoo Dores
Welcome Christmas Come this way
Fahoo Fores Dahoo Dores
Welcome Christmas, Christmas day
Welcome, welcome fahoo ramus
Welcome, welcome dahoo damus
Christmas day is in our grasp,
So long as we have hands to clasp"
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Dahoo Dores....

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