I left the title open to interpretation. Why? I find it fascinating how differently people relate to the idea of the holiday. Some feel anxious, pressured and jittery; some see dollar signs, long line-ups and wrapping papers; and, some see demanding teenagers, annoying family members and too much food. Some see all of them at once. How did we get to this point in history? How did we get to the holiday being so overwhelming? Do the words “joy”, “happiness” or “relaxation” ever come to mind to anyone anymore?

My ninety year old neighbour had an interesting comment the other day. She said that, over the past three decades, the holiday became a chore that people need to get done, rather than a celebration. She was happy that her younger years were spent at a time when it was still about the joy of the season. She said that everything appeared to be overblown and out of proportions nowadays. Christmas music is being played for six to seven weeks, the decorations in the stores are out on the shelves right after Halloween and the advertisers are bombarding people with messages for two months. I had to agree with my neighbour that somehow society created a pressure-cooker for people get in and be overwhelmed.

What can people do in this situation? Well, they can do the obvious. They can shop early with a list in hand, avoid the stores with the annoying music and turn of the television and radio to get away from the advertisements. However, I find that, although these solutions are psychologically helpful, they are avoidance strategies only. They are not conducive to bringing back the joy of the holiday season. So, what can people do to enjoy it? I believe, it starts with small symbolic gestures. I decided to read a book on angels, for example. Angels are part of all spiritual paths and religions. Whether one focuses on them with a spiritual, psychological, anthropological or historical mindset, it is delightful to learn about angels. I chose a book called The Angel Therapy by Doreen Virtue. I curl up on the couch everyday for a half hour before bed to read about angels. This is my way of contributing to the holiday season. This is my “me-time”. I believe that everyone can do something to bring back the holiday spirit. It does not have to be a gigantic effort; it can be something small but significant. How about learning to bake a pie? Building a bird’s house? Creating holiday decorations from colourful crafts papers? Making a cup of hot cocoa and enjoying it in front of the fireplace with the kids? I believe it is possible to bring back the magic. Whether one is celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas, Winter Solstice or any other holiday, it is possible to make it joyful, happy and relaxing. So, what is your way of making this happen?

M. J. Mandoki