We must acknowledge that, despite the charms of the traditional Holiday Season, there’s no amount of magic that will make a day longer than 24 hours in length. There are certain obligations that need to be met each day, including getting adequate sleep, nutrition, physical activity, and “down time.”

The Season offers a huge variety of activities on which we are invited to spend our time, our energy, and our money. We can’t possibly do it all! Like it or not, we must choose among these offerings, which may mean letting go of some things we’d really like to do or have. Making choices becomes easier when we make a plan to identify priorities, taking into consideration our personal values and our resources.

For instance, prioritizing according to personal values may take into consideration such factors as the needs of various family members to whom we have responsibility; our spiritual beliefs and practices; our philosophies about topics ranging from child-rearing practices to money management; the meaning attached to holidays and their celebrations, and more.

Prioritizing according to resources must take into account both our assets and limitations. How much TIME is available to us? How much MONEY is available to us? How much PHYSICAL ENERGY and stamina is available to us? How much EMOTIONAL ENERGY is available to us?

Record all of the activities that you must do during this holiday period. Use a planner or calendar so you can see more clearly what activities will take place when, and how much time will be required for them. Include time that will be required for work hours, driving, doctor appointments, ongoing commitments, etc. The time remaining after accounting for your daily, weekly, or monthly obligations is time you have to use at your discretion.

Now make a list of all of the discretionary holiday activities that you have to choose from. Note those that you believe you “have to” do (though you do not really “have to” do anything; you always have a choice! But that’s a discussion for another day, perhaps…) and/or absolutely don’t want to miss. Rate and prioritize these activities according to preference–for example: Level 1: “Can’t Miss It!”; Level 2: “Really Want to Include This, If At All Possible,Level 3: “It’d Be Nice to Do This, If Resources Permit,” and Level 4: “We Won’t Miss This If It Doesn’t Happen.”

For example, maybe your “can’t miss” list includes traveling out of town to spend time with family members, attending your child’s holiday band concert, serving dinner at a homeless shelter, giving gifts to your family members and close friends, sending out cards or a newsletter to distant friends and relatives, and decorating your home. Your Level 2 list might include attending your office holiday party, baking goodies for your child’s classroom party, attending the city’s Christmas parade, helping sort food for your worship community’s food drive, hosting a gathering of friends. Maybe your Level 3 list would include making hand-knitted scarves to give as gifts to each of your child’s teachers, driving across the city to see a great display of lights, attending a Holiday party given by an acquaintance, and going to the hospital to sing Christmas carols for the patients.

After identifying your priorities, determine how you will budget your resources of time, energy, and money. Be realistic about these resources, and live within your means in all areas.

By taking a little time now, before the Holiday Season is fully upon us, you can relax a bit, knowing you have a general plan that will allow you to discard unnecessary stress and enjoy the seasonal activities that you have chosen.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!