Ho ho ho, falalalala, deck the halls . I swear, I feel like every time I turn around it's Christmas again. It's starting to freak me out. Only a few more days to buy the perfect gift for everyone from the person you care about most in the world to the person you barely know.
For many of us, this means spending money we don't have and stressing right the hell out about it. Who the hell decided we should have to empty our pockets once a year, huh? And if we hear Let It Snow just one more time, we're going to totally lose our shit!
Then, to top it off, holiday gatherings can be tense and stressful for even the most loving and supportive families.
Too much Mom. Too much Dad. Or not enough of either. Don't get me started on the brother's girlfriend and would somebody shut that wailing baby up?! Maybe we can help.
What the experts say
"Develop a plan to avoid fights or difficulties. Think in advance about ways you might respond . This is particularly important if these are family members you dont see very often or older family members who are more set in their ways. Look for ways you can join with them to celebrate but not get caught up in old dynamics that leave you feeling frustrated or angry. Old patterns can emerge when people get tipsy. Dont expect that somehow this year is going to be different. People get depressed or stressed when there's a dramatic difference between expectations and reality.
DOUG SAUNDERS , clinical psychologist, Clear Path Solutions, president, Ontario Psychological Association, Toronto
"For a body-clearing ritual, take a bath in citrus water . Peel an orange so the number of pieces of peel is a multiple of nine: nine, 18 or 27. With the number nine, all things are possible. Toss them in the bathwater and soak with the intention that your thoughts and attitudes are being cleansed so you'll have a clean slate when you go into the situation. Write down how the evening would go if it were perfect , so you'll recognize the positive when you see it and won't get stuck in the negative. If you want to deflect hurtful remarks, you can hide mirrors in your clothes . The saffron orange worn by Tibetan monks is good for creating boundaries. Wear that colour or have it in your visual field."
KAREN RAUCH CARTER , feng shui consultant, author of Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life, Tustin, California
"For holiday shopping and last-minute preparations, put a red garnet in your pocket to reduce fatigue and give you energy. To cheer up a winter room, hang a Swarovski lead crystal (cut glass) prism in the window and watch rainbows dance on the walls. For a table centrepiece, fill a clear glass vase with different-coloured crystals such as rose quartz, amethyst, fluorite and agate. Add water and a few flowers or boughs of greenery to bring nature's healing vibrations into the room. To reduce in-law tension, tape rose quartz under each dining room chair or tuck a few around the family couch. To keep younger kids entertained, a piece of shiny multicoloured chalcopyrite helps enhance perception."
KAREN RYAN , Crystal Tiger, Toronto
"Stress is our own creation. When we try to put on a show of being the best host or hostess or getting presents for friends and family, we put our ego first and other things next. This is the first step in creating stress for ourselves. Always we forget that we are like everyone else. Remember we are all human beings. This sort of thinking helps a person to feel at one with others . When we do this, things start looking clear. When we start trying to prove ourselves, we create more stress, not only for us but for others. This is a month of giving and receiving, not only from family and friends but from the divine.'
SWAMI RAMACHANANDRA, yogi, West Virginia
"Give yourself a lavender pomander (a cloth bag full of lavender flowers). Hold it to your nose and inhale deeply when things get tense. The scent of lavender is very relaxing. If family are aggravating, visit them before but not during yule. You can always find lots of charity functions you feel duty calls you to support; they provide a fine excuse. On December 25, I'll be attending an orphans yule party.
TAMARRA JAMES , high priestess of the Wiccan Church of Canada, Toronto >