Home and Garden

Are You Ready for the Holidays?

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Here in the Midwest, the leaves have begun to change into a beautiful tapestry of color, it is getting dark earlier, and you can feel the brisk weather beginning to take over for the warm nights which we have been enjoying over an extended summer. Fall is here! That means some of the favorite holidays of the year are upon us. With a little planning, you can find yourself at peace and ready to thoroughly enjoy those celebrations with family and friends.

Like clockwork, God puts nature through an annual process that announces the onset of a new season, it is time for us to do likewise. Besides taking out warmer clothes, storing the outdoor furniture in the garage, and contemplating when to switch to snow tires, it is also time to start splashing some holiday cheer around your home inside and out. Exchange the summer flowers for mums and pansies. Pack up the summer decorations and exchange them for Fall/Winter decorations. Season appropriate pillows, blankets, and rugs will bring warmth to your home without going to a lot of expense.

The stores have already changed over their displays and stocked up on candy for little ghouls and goblins in anticipation of Halloween. Before we know it, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukah will be upon us. That means spending time in fellowship, good food, and merriment with family and friends. So start getting your guest room ready now. Fresh new towels, bed pillows and throw blankets go a long way with making your guests feel special. Surround your guest bathroom with great smelling soaps and candles.

The many retail stores offer seemingly endless rounds of sales before, during, and after the holidays that allow you to have “hostess” gifts on hand at all times. The stores planned months in advance for what you see right now. So take advantage of the opportunity to find those great deals and place a gift in some of your favorite tissue paper and tie with a favorite ribbon. Your friends will be more impressed that you gave something from your heart than how much you spent on them.

Follow the lead of retailers by getting and staying organized early to maximize your seasonal joy. Don’t wait until Halloween gets here before you start planning for the “major” holidays. You will be less stressed when you plan ahead. In addition to transforming your home with decorations, check the pantry to make sure you have all of the staple herbs and spices on hand for preparing those yummy holiday meals. That way you won’t have to run to the store at the last minute to pick up that can of cranberry sauce 30 minutes before your guests arrive!

The holidays are also a time when we tend to reflect more on the meaning of our lives and reach out to that friend or family member we haven’t spoken with in years. It seems as though we treat our fellow man with more respect during this time of year. More people seem to smile and say “thank you” and “you’re welcome” rather than the cynicism and vitriol we have had to endure during this strangest of election seasons. God put us here to serve others. As Barbara Streisand so beautifully sang, “People, people who need people, are the luckiest people in the world”; I believe in that saying. We all share more in common than we don’t. Surround yourself with your favorite people, in your home, or in theirs.

Perhaps the most important transformation some of us may need to address is how we prepare our hearts to truly take in what can be the most magical time of year. It’s all about love. So whatever you do this season whether it is decorating your home, preparing a meal for friends and family, greeting a stranger out and about, or visiting an older relative, ask yourself this question – is it done with love?

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