Holiday survival

December is the season of Great Expectations. My family, especially the younger set, expects toys, lots of company, and holiday cookies.

I have expectations, too, of a house gussied up with pine boughs and carefully matched bows. Of pageants and carol sings and goodwill toward neighbors.

However, in decorating my home for the holidays, and in other domestic endeavors, the House Beautiful image is often far from what I can achieve.

It's ironic that these days I measure myself less by the images in Vogue and more by the elaborate layouts in Martha Stewart Living. While I'm not misled by retouched photographs of gorgeous models, I am completely taken in by flawless floral arrangements.

Each year, I vow to take on fewer obligations, buy less, and enjoy more. It's a tall order. This year, I made a list that keeps the focus on family, friends, and the Christmas message.

Avoid shopping malls.

Sign only your name to

holiday cards.

Light more candles.

Smell pine trees.

Bake gingerbread, if nothing else.

Stroke your child's hair.

Choose one party to attend;

decline the rest.

Watch a teary movie like

"It's a Wonderful Life" or

"Little Women."

Listen to Mozart.

Shut off all computers, cell phones, and fax machines.

Accept offers of help.

Look forward, not backward.

Take a bubble bath.

Dress in velvet.

Say "I love you" to your spouse.

Say it often.

Play board games.

Be silly.

Forgive yourself.

*Write the Homefront, One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 or e-mail us at

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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