As you read this, you may be still full from yesterday’s Thanksgiving dinner, or running high on your Black Friday shopping extravaganza. Eat your fill, see a little family, spend some money, and give thanks in-between – a constant theme around the Thanksgiving season. Then it’s prep for Christmas: eat, be merry, shop. Repeat. Seems easy enough, but between second helpings and staying in budget and fitting into your winter leggings, a sneaky little word lingers, pops up now and again. The type of word that floats in our head and pulls a person back, maybe not for everyone, but it sneaks around in my head and shines bright like a Christmas light when I start thinking what I shouldn’t do around the holidays.

The word I’m talking about is Don’t. Such a nitpicky word. Don’t eat that. Don’t buy that. Don’t spend too much money. Don’t wear that. Don’t eat sweets. Don’t gain weight. Don’t buy your husband that. Don’t drink too much wine. Don’t forget any Christmas presents, lists, cookies, cleaning, and decorations.

Lots of “don’ts” I hear around the holidays, and mostly sad to myself.

For this holiday season, let’s drop the “don’ts” and turn them into “do’s.” Why do we have to feel pressure to eat and look and behave around the holidays? We should spend the day after Thanksgiving and holiday season, with as little guilt as we can. How is this possible, you may ask. I have no magic cure for life problems, but I can lend advice and a magical little word; balance. Turn those negative “don’ts” into a positive. Balance between the don’ts and do’s, the guilt and the pleasure, impulse vs constraint.

Focus on balance that pertains to YOU.

Balance your feelings towards what you ate over Thanksgiving ad the guilt you may feel afterwards. If you feel like you ate too much, take a step back, evaluate. It’s not about what you will eat tomorrow or the following day, or the creeping pounds from the turkey-ham-mashed potatoes supper, it’s more about the choice you made. Be confident with your food choices, don’t look back with regret if you had a second helping of Thanksgiving dinner, or no helping of dessert at all.

If you didn’t brave the shopping malls and supercenters on Black Friday, and now you are stuck with the sinking feeling of buying Christmas gifts at full price or missing out on good deals, or stuck with the guilt of spending too much, find the balance between your choice. Did you stick within a budget? That’s good! Step over budget? Think how you’ll make up for it, talk the situation out in your head or with a good friend or family member. Find what you can do better, balance out the bad with the good. If you missed out on those half-price deals, there are more sales coming in the shopping world. Try online shopping. Look at other stores. Make it happen on your watch instead of what is going on sale when and where.

If you are behind on Christmas shopping, decorating, getting those season greetings cards mailed out – remember you are one person, with two hands and one brain. If you fall a little behind, find the balance in between to catch up. Or, skip this year. Get a smaller tree. Send less cards. Or send more cards, and save the tree for next week. The Christmas police won’t go after you if something slips.

As you bounce to one family gathering to another, and then another this weekend, find your reason why you are going, instead of the constant rush of “getting there and having to be there.” Or, try to do less, find the right balance for your family and time. Pressure to go to every gathering and party can break you down faster than that second helping of dessert. It’s okay to tell someone “No” too. Don’t feel like you have to see everyone. Yes it’s about family, holidays, and being around loved ones – but balance your time so time spent, is genuine and not an obligation.

Family time is so precious, always hug your loved ones before you leave, tell them you love them. Give them a compliment. It’s the little things like a “Thank You” or “I Love You” that really counts.

Kate Hula

Kate Hula began writing as soon as she could hold a crayon in her hand and has been hooked with words, writing and storytelling ever since. By first grade, Kate completed her first novel, The Butterfly Catcher, with several other grade level masterpieces that only her mother has seen. Her writing ambition brought her to the University of Nebraska- Kearney where she graduated with a degree in Journalism while working part-time at a local television station. As time progressed, Kate moved to Lincoln and found the one thing she wasn't looking for, love. She met her future husband at a cheesy 80's cover band concert and her life changed forever. While balancing married life and a full time job, Kate has just enough time to do what she loves the most, writing. Follow Kate's hilarious and unconventional blog, the, about life as a thirty-something year old woman among a world of debauchery, annoyances and every day oddities that make life a little more interesting.