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December 2011

What makes a holiday happy?

You COULD have your happiest holidays EVER — even with this struggling economy and job market! It is a choice we each make. How will we spend our time, energy and savings to have the happiest holiday ever (Christmas…Hanukkah…Kwanzaa)? Would you be worried about disappointing the kids, family and friends?

An informal survey I've done over the years has proven to me that it doesn't take money or good fortune or even good health to bring real happiness for the holidays. There are typically three components:

  1. special family and friends who really mean something to you
  2. a spiritual insight
  3. serving someone in need

Several years ago I was facilitating a workshop for the unemployed in December. One of the participants did a presentation on “Christmas Without a Paycheck.” He described what was most important for him and his young family. He was excited as he talked about the pennies they saved up to make cookies and tree ornaments and cards. They would bring food gifts to neighbors.

A single person in the group was sharing her best memories. She had joined a volunteer effort to serve the homeless.

Everyone in the group agreed that the happiest memories in their lives did not include gifts that cost money, but something spiritual — a connection with people, a realization of what is meaningful for them in life and a no-guilt way to simplify.

Take up the challenge this year, even if you do have money. Choose to simplify: give gifts of donations in honor of friends and family. Start your own tradition centered around creating decorations, singing together, serving others. Your loved ones will thank you for it. Below are a couple of resources that may spark some thoughts for your happiest holiday EVER.

“Your Money or Your Life,” by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez

“Unplug the Christmas Machine,” by Jo Robinson and Jean Staeheli

Kathleen Martinek, former UNCG alumni career counselor, has more than 15 years of experience in career development and corporate management and welcomes your feedback!









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