By Sandy (Welch) Thompson

This time of year is a crazy, busy mess with everyone out shopping.  Nobody pays attention to anyone else.  We bump into each other, give each other dirty looks and just flat don’t want anything to impede our progress.  I believe we want our Holiday Spirit to be in full swing, but we don’t want it when we are shopping…that’s an “eye on the prize” kind of situation.

Don’t believe me?  Try going the speed limit in the passing lane anywhere close to a mall.  You might get a wave, but not the one you may have been anticipating.  Better yet, walk your normal pace in the mall.  That will get you in trouble too.  When someone has full bags behind you, but can’t seem to maneuver enough to get around your non-acceptable speed, you get a snort or two when they eventually find room to pass.

We are running around like crazy attempting to get everything done on our own lists, and in the process many of us are making our way off Santa’s “Nice” list and moving to the “Naughty”.  It should be embarrassing for any of us to act this way, but we do it.

Even the grocery store has people doing weirdo stuff.  Lord forbid you go down the baking aisle for some powdered sugar.  People standing the middle of the aisles reading recipes, so they get the right ingredients for some dish or dessert they haven’t made since last year.

There’s an all-out traffic jam, with carts jack-knifed in the middle of the aisle.  Folks reaching up for the condensed milk or vanilla extract, over the top of other folks reaching for some other spice they need   It is crazy stuff.   Any other time of year, you can hear crickets in those aisles.

Little tip from your ol’ friend Sandy – buy em’ already made.  If you have to open a box, they are considered homemade.  For extra measure…throw a little flour on your face before you present them – Done and DONE!  I’m not tellin’ you to lie, just don’t say anything at all.  Not your fault if people misinterpret.

While we are all out there fretting over what to get whom, let’s just remember that in the process, we should at least attempt to be kind to one another.  And for goodness sake, no matter what you get at Christmas, be thankful.  I don’t care if it’s the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen, something you can’t readily identify or any other unwanted “thing”. Say thank you anyway.  My mom made sure we did.  I make sure my kids do.

There’s a certain thing called tact that you should bring to all the festive occasions you frequent this time of year.  Suck it up around those family members that you cannot stand.  Deal with the weird aunt or uncle that has has to kiss you smack on the mouth every single time they see you.  Just take a deep breath when you are confronted with the one who is so honest, they have “noticed” you’ve put on a little weight – but it “looks good on ya”.

And again, for the love of the season, and for the sake of family happiness, bring your peace with you to all gatherings.  Lord knows there will be someone there that will task your patience, your calm, your very soul.  A little trick I like to do?  Focus on one of their flaws and you will forget all about what they are saying or doing to jingle your bells.  If they are perfect, make some crap up in your mind and then focus on it.  Don’t say anything out loud though, cause we don’t want to see you on the news.  Ugly sweaters are acceptable.  Ugly words are to be kept to yourself.

I’m not sayin’ it’s right, but it works.  Give them a little less authority over your mood and you will be amazed at how differently you view the event.  Joy to the World, am I right?

I guess that’s about all the holiday advice I have for you.  Write these tips down, check that list twice.  Trust me when I say you will have a merrier season!

I wish you all tremendous love and happiness in the coming year – enjoy every minute of it, and if you don’t…read a little Path and find a little laughter to get you through!