What images do the holidays create for you? Hopefully you have positive memories and experiences from past holidays. However, for many people the holidays trigger family stress, emotional baggage, sleep deprivation, loneliness, and financial stress. This can be a very difficult time of the year, in spite of the fact that we’re supposed to be joyful and excited. Our unrealistic expectations, routine changes, time pressures, and comparing our lives with others contribute to our stress levels. We want to create the perfect holiday and in doing so lose sight of the meaning of the season. As a Christian, I celebrate the birth of Christ and the opportunity to connect with family. The season doesn’t have to be filled with bad memories, if you can create new ones and let go of the past. Start by creating positive family traditions: whether it is reading a special book, playing cards, baking, watching a favorite movie, attending a church service, or decorating a tree together. Maybe your family will decide to volunteer some time over the holidays or participate in “Secret Santa” through acts of service for one another. The holidays are always better when we manage our stress, maintain our exercise schedule, set limits/boundaries, and avoid negative habits (excessive food/alcohol). Decide this year to focus less on the gifts and more on the people. Be around people you care about and who care about you. Make this a year to remember!