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Some of the Best Advice I Ever Heard


It's crunch time. The "run up" before Christmas, as my mom likes to say. At my house, the presents have been wrapped and under the tree for over a week. The cards were just mailed last night because they got here so late. Now it is time for big cooking and then family to arrive, adding more activity and merriment. In the background there is regular life that demands regular attention, like taking the dog to the vet and shoveling the driveway and working and going to my own appointments.'


I have spent the last six weeks talking a lot about how to stay sane over holiday time. It takes focus to keep your cool and not get lost in activities that steal your joy or people who suck the life out of you. That sounds dramatic, but it's true. It also takes focus to distinguish between what matters and what doesn't. This brings me to one of the best pieces of advice I have ever gotten. It was from my favorite teacher of all time, Mrs. Holman. She is the one who survived WWII during the Paris Occupation. A survivor if there ever was one. She said, "Don't take yourself too seriously." I first heard those words when I was in high school in southern Indiana, at Evansville Day School, where she was my French teacher. At the time, being a teenager, I thought--yeah--ok--good advice, but I probably didn't think much of it. Fast forward to forty years later, and I get it. I get it clearly. Find a way to make light of what you are going through. Find a way to let things that should go--go. Find a way to find a sense of ease in trying times. Easier said than done, like lots of good advice.


I am thinking about Mrs. Holman's words a lot right now as my household is about to welcome home my daughter, Lilia, who is a vegan activist. I am hoping we won't be having lectures and arguments about menus. I am hoping there is a "live and let live" attitude going on. I am hoping that sibling dynamics and fighting don't shake these walls. I am hoping everyone is healthy and doesn't bring covid or rsv or flu or norovirus to our household. I am hoping everyone enjoys themselves and their holiday time and likes their presents. I want to enjoy it too and not be the maid, cleaning and cooking and making things right (heavy emotional lifting) while everyone is having cocktails. (DOH) Don't worry--I won't do that. And so, it brings me back to the words--don't take yourself too seriously. It will all be well because I am not thinking of it any other way.


Whatever is coming your way this week and next--I hope you too can find humor and ease and lack of judgment of yourself and others. I hope you share festive moments. I hope your people are especially kind and considerate of you. I hope you recall that the best gifts are the ones that don't get bought on Amazon, delivered by the UPS carrier but come from the heart. In words, actions, gestures, deeds, I hope you are getting just as much wonder as you give.


Let it be holly and jolly, bright and light.



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