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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Stress-Free Holiday Season

It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving week is already upon us. It feels like just yesterday that I was doing the interview circuit to promote the release of the 2010 Farmers’ Almanac.

For school kids, and even for many adults, Thanksgiving means a few much-desired days off from school or work. Traditionally, it has been a day for families to reconnect and take time to appreciate our blessings. Increasingly, though, with large meals and long trips to make, Thanksgiving has become just one more hectic day as we springboard into the sometimes-overwhelming business of the holiday season. Before the calendar page has even turned, many people find themselves wedged like sardines among irritable strangers, waiting for midnight madness sales to begin.

From frenzied — and, sadly, sometimes violent — energy of Black Friday, the days of December fly by in a whir of wrapping paper, ribbons, tape, decorations, travel arrangements, obligatory parties, last-minute gifts, frantic searches for this year’s must-have toys or gadgets, baking, and more. By the time Christmas day actually comes, many people’s feelings more often resemble a mixture of anxiety and disappointment than the “comfort and joy” promised in the lyrics of the old carol.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Each of us has the ability to make a conscious choice to step back from the chaos and dedicate ourselves to the things that really matter — to family, friends and community. We can allow the pressure to buy everything, do everything and see everyone drop away, and we can put some joy back into the holiday season, for ourselves, for our families, and for our neighbors.

A few years back, the Farmers’ Almanac published an article offering tips to help people do just that. The author advocated putting a spending cap on the holidays, and instead giving gifts of shared time and tenderness. Back rubs, pet sitting, family trips to the museum, game time together, baked goods, and homemade gifts are just a few ways to express your care without spending a lot of money.

Accompanying the article was a pledge to help readers halt the holiday hustle:

Believing in the simplicity and beauty of Christmas, I commit myself to the following:
1. To remember those people who truly need my gifts.
2. To express my love to family and friends in more direct ways than presents.
3. To rededicate myself to the spiritual growth of my family.
4. To examine my activities in light of the true spirit of Christmas.
5. To initiate one act of peacemaking within my circle of family and friends.

Why not try taking that pledge this year to bring the joy back into your holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving!!

1 comment

1 jennifer dlugozima { 12.02.09 at 8:57 am }

What a beautiful post! Thanks so much for sharing these inspiring thoughts. If everyone read and followed this advice, the holidays – and more importantly, the world, would be far more peaceful.

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If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.