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Catherine's Totally Unofficial Rules for Thanksgiving and Other Holidays

We are about to kick off the most stressful season of the year which should actually be the most joyful and calm!! We just finished getting the beejeezus scared out of us at Halloween and then remembering those who have passed from this life on All Saints Day. Then we had a solemn celebration of our country's veterans (which also happens to be my brother's birthday).

Now we move on the bigger holidays. And the time of year when there are more events scheduled than you have time to think about, much the less participate in! But, I've had chronic migraine now for 13 years after working as a busy family physician for 10 years. I've learned a few things that might help other people out over the next six weeks. And, if a suggestion that I give doesn't seem like it fits your situation, you are free to ignore it.

1. Manage your expectations for everything. The kids will not be perfect in the presentation, but they will be adorable (if they are at the adorable age) and amazing if they have passed adorable. Your house will not stay clean through the whole season. Get used to it. Keep things sanitary, do a family straighten-up once a week, and you'll be fine.

2. Don't diet. This doesn't mean gorge out on all the food. This means eat some veggies every day. Otherwise, eat when you are hungry. Eat slowly. Stop eating when you are full. Minimize sugar and white startches. But, don't pass on your Aunt's famous pumpkin pie because you're on a diet - enjoy a small piece. When you aren't at parties, etc., stick to your healthy diet plan.

3. Don't tell other people what to eat, including your husband and kids. Don't comment about what's on other people's plates except to say, "Oh, that looks yummy!"

4. "Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life". I got this quote from Richard Swenson's book, Margin. And it is appropriate for everything. Don't overschedule so that you are running around from one thing to another. Nobody's having fun that way. And your friends and neighbors are not impressed that you are so busy. They are wondering why you are doing so much if you are so miserable.

5. If you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner, let other people bring some of the dishes.

6. Buy your turkey from Popeyes. This is our first year doing this, so it's a bit of a gamble. But, they are roasted then flash fried. All I have to do is thaw it starting tonight and put it in the oven for a couple of hours on Thanksving day.

7. Honor your family traditions. One of ours is to watch the Macy's thanksgiving day parade on TV while we cook. Other people play board games or watch football. These are traditions that bring us close as a family.

8. Don't talk politics. I'm pretty sure that the people coming to our house this year share most of our political beliefs, but if we were going to other family members' houses, we would not engage in political talk. There's a whole wide world to discuss; choose something less controversial!

9. Don't buy gifts just to buy gifts. Christmas shouldn't be about stuff. (Actually life shouldn't be about stuff.) Make it something meaningful. Sometimes a special gift can be to donate to a charitable organization in the name of the giftee.

8. Consider buying gifts from Fair Trade organizations. Google it. There are a number of companies that work with artisans to sell the projects online. You might want to research the companies. But, it's worth it.

9. Remember also to buy local. Yes, Amazon has lots of stuff and I sometimes get things there since I live in a small town, but I also make sure to frequent our local craft shop here in Weyauwega as well as checking out the gift shops in Waupaca.

10. Be grateful. If you are celebrating with your family this year, God has truly blessed you. If you don't have any place to celebrate, you are welcome to our house if you are local. For those not local, check out local churches to see who is hosting Thanksgiving day meals this year.

11. Enjoy music! I'm not going to kick you off reading my blog if you've already broken out the Christmas. After all, sometimes "We need a little Christmas, right this very minute, candles in the window, caroles on the spinet . . . " And if you get a chance to go hear a high school or community choir, you should do it. Lydia is part of the Community Choir in Stevens Point and we are sooooo looking forward to that concert.

12. Go to the Christmas parade. Yes, you're going to freeze, but that's why we have hats and gloves. The kids in the parades and on the floats love to see people watching them!

13. For those of us who are Christians, let's use these six weeks leading up to Christmas to really focus on the Advent of the Savior who turned our world upside down when he changed history forever. All of the other Christmas rituals are fun and bring our communities together, but Jesus actually changed the world. (Yes, I know he was actually born in the spring, but let's just go with what we've got.)

14. If someone in your friend group or family has a disability or chronic illness, show some extra love and grace. They are probably doing the best they can. If they can only tolerate the big dinner for an hour, be glad they came! If they can't bring a dish to pass and show up with store bought cookies, smile!! Cookies are yummy! Navigating life with chronic illness is rough and things can change from minute to minute.

14. If your parents asks you to go to church with them on Christmas, go. It's a small ask and it means a lot to them. Besides, you and God might get reacquainted if you've been distant lately.

15. Love. “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:40) That sounds so easy, but a house full of company can somethings make the ''love" thing a little rough. Things can get said, tempers can rise. And then, apologies and repentence beome the order of the day. You can also show love by participating in one of the local charities.

I hope that we all can have unbusy and very happy holiday seasons! Let's get out there and not be busy except in loving everyone we see!! How's your holiday shaping up this year?


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