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Dear Annie: Rediscovering the magic of the holidays

Dear Annie: Rediscovering the magic of the holidays

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Dear Annie: While I don't hate holidays, nor dread them, as "Holiday Anxiety" expressed, I don't go "all in" either. I believe in moderation, in all things, including moderation.

All my close family has gone to their rewards. None of my high school and earlier friends has time or money for more than immediate family, and my partner passed a decade ago. I'm 61 and find myself refreshingly able to control my own life.

I do miss the family traditions, the scents and the decorations; I am also now aware of the time and effort my parents and grandparents put in to create these memories, and I am grateful. And I absolutely hate Halloween decor immediately replaced by Christmas stuff. Where's Thanksgiving?

For "Holiday Anxiety," I suggest:

1. I make gift baskets for shelter animals and their keepers. Cat litter, dog food, paper towels and sanitizer might not seem very "gifty," but you drop some off with gift cards and pet toys, and you're a hero. I gave a local shelter administrator a glittery holiday card including $100; the lady burst into tears, which made me proud and happy. Spend $100 and get a million in gratitude back.

2. Our country is chock-a-block with kids who eat ketchup sandwich meals, if they eat at all. Shames me, 'cuz even though I'm a disabled veteran, I have no excuse for being fat, 'cept I eat too much and have too much. I give through the VA, Catholic charities, the Salvation Army and do food drives. If you hate the holidays, then make them better for someone else. You will benefit. Giving is the best reward.

3. Walk the streets and absorb the atmosphere. See the kids, bright-eyed and full of wonder; look at the window displays. Smell the food, the firewood, the goodies. Just be in the moment.

4. If possible, go ice skating. It is impossible to be bitter and holiday hatin' on a pair of skates, especially if the '40s music is on. Try. You can't, even on your butt.

5. A small decoration can work wonders. Unlike my parents, who created holiday displays visible from space — really — I have a 4-foot artificial tree, decorated with heirloom ornaments and light strings. I buy pine-scented stuff, and, like the '70s high schooler I am still, I drape a cord of little lights around my bedroom. Those lil twinkly lights make me feel at home for the holidays.

6. Enjoy seasonal music. Force yourself if you "hate" it. Listen to the Christian and secular, feel and fall into the lyrics. You'll feel better.

And if your writer can do none of this, that's fine, too. Some folk just can't. I wish I could reach out and share my take on the holidays with "Holiday Anxiety," 'cuz I used to think I hated them, too.

I'm alone, but not lonely. I'm not a Christian, but love the idea of Christmas.

I take Thanksgiving very seriously, as I have much for which to be thankful.

I don't "decorate" nor do I "buy special things," and all with whom I would have exchanged gifts are deceased. And given my lack of kitchen skill, any cookies I made would most likely get me arrested or find me homeless, after burning my house down.

But I enjoy the season, simply because I enjoy the pleasure of others. I cannot Grinch in the presence of joy, just can't. Is it possible "Holiday Anxiety" could come to the "light," just accept the message and ignore the commercialism?

Peace, safety, and love upon you and yours, ma'am, in this time of turmoil and disruption. — Ryan C.

Dear Ryan: I couldn't have said it better myself. Giving and appreciating what we have are the best rewards. Thank you for sharing and spreading some holiday cheer.

Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

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