The holiday season is upon us once again. It’s the time of year that many of us get shopped out, tapped out and stressed out. Stress comes from all directions. Am I going to get a bonus? Am I going to have a job? Will everyone come to our party? Will they ever leave? Will I pick the right present for others? Can I return the ones they bought me?

Add in the traffic, weather, crowds and the thought of a fat guy in a red suit breaking and entering on Christmas Eve and it’s no wonder so many of us get stressed out this time of year.

This is supposed to be a joyful time so why do we find it so hard to be in the spirit? We’ve been conditioned to think that the only way we can have a great holiday is to go into hock up to our mistletoe, get invited to a gazillion parties and have that perfect someone to share it all with. Bah! Humbug!

This year have everyone in the family narrow their wish list down to only a few reasonably priced things they really want. I know it’s going to be tough having to tell the little ones that Santa couldn’t fit a life-size Barbie down the chimney. Instead of driving yourself crazy thinking of gifts for all your extended family, either make a pact not to buy anything for each other or do what my siblings do: Donate a certain amount in each others names to their favorite charity.

Who cares if you didn’t get invited to a lot (or any) parties? As Lincoln said, “This too shall pass.” Think of all the calories you’ll save. Personally, I think the holidays were invented by Jenny Craig to give her a reason for living. If you are one of those mondo popular people that gets invited to a multitude of parties, don’t feel obligated to go to them all. I mean, how much eggnog and fruitcake do you need?

As far as having that perfect someone to share it all with, maybe that someone is you.

Find some place that you can do some good. Nothing makes you feel better about yourself then doing charity work and nothing reduces stress faster than feeling good about yourself. It’s a delicious circle.

Don’t be attached to what you want but be grateful for what you get.

Above all keep your sense of humor. Laugh as often as you can, even if you have to fake it at first. If someone cuts you off in traffic, imagine they must be one of Santa’s elves rushing back to the shop to make your gift. This holiday season and throughout the year, remember to laugh with others and at yourself. Giving yourself and others permission to be imperfect can assure your holidays don’t become hollerdays. Peace.