I was raised in a home where the holidays were celebrated in… stuff.  For my parents, children of the depression, their prosperity existed to be shared, through buying us lots and lots and lots of gifts.

Imagine an artificial tree (it was the 70’s) with gifts radiating out halfway across our family room, cresting against the brick fireplace on one side and threatening to spill out the sliding glass doors on the other. A pool of hastily wrapped (you can’t get all Martha when you have that many presents to wrap) red-and-green ribbon spotted booty.

We would all remark on how obscene it was. My mom would swear she was never going to do it again…

Fast forward to 2011 where I find the insidious “this amount of gifts = how much I love you” insanity threatening to take me down yet again.  Thoughts like, “I haven’t bought enough, I wasn’t thoughtful enough, He/she won’t think I love them if I don’t buy them just one more thing,” crowd in.

It’s silly and I ready to ease away from this story so here is preventing holiday prove-you-love me insanity strategy:

:: The eco-police are not going to bust down my door when I fail to execute the perfect zero carbon footprint holiday.

Note to self: Minimize impact while avoiding self-imposed eco insanity.

::  Keep breathing awareness in, keep loving this part of me that is stuck back under the tree in Stuart, Florida. Not for the sake of fixing me but simply to bring it into the twinkling light of consciousness.

Note to self: Your heart is in the right place.

::  Use my own Conditions of Satisfaction. Get specific about who I want to buy gifts for, when, where (downtown Seattle, Bainbridge, on line) and how much I will spend (include how much I have spent!). Total that all up. Give myself some dates and amounts of time to shop.

Note to self: You always do better with specifics but don’t get all rigid about it. COE’s can be rewritten!

Note to you: Speaking of gift giving, buy two copies of any of my books by December 19th, and get a free copy of the Satisfaction Finder. Keep it for yourself!

:: Speaking of gifts for oneself, one reason I get triggered to buy too much is the little kid in me wants something, too. So every year I give myself something I have really wanted. This year? One of Jen Lee’s courses.

Note to self: I love you.

:: Talk to my people about what they expect. Tell them what I want to do. See where we can meet.

Note to self: Doesn’t have to be a big serious conversation – quick chat is good.

:: Don’t be the carrot guy. (When Lilly was little, a guy in our neighborhood gave out single carrots for Halloween. She was in 1st grade and still remembers this.) My point: don’t get all grim and righteous. As my  mom said to be the other day, “Jesus, Jen, live a little.”

Note to self: Live a little.

My holiday intention is to stay present to the gift mania, love myself when I don’t, and keep in mind that savoring and serving is all about the middle way.

I would be honored to hear your stories and ideas for making the holidays sane. And if you have any ideas what I can get Bob, that would be great, too.