About 28 years ago, I used to speak about managing the stress of the holidays. Those presentations were loosely based on the book Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Joy Back into the Season. In it, the authors, Jo Robinson and Jean Staeheli, focused on four main themes:

  • Prioritize gift-giving to those who truly need your gifts
  • Engage in activities (across a well-paced holiday season – not just a day) that connect with your deepest personal values
  • Seek to be a peacemaker among friends and family
  • Commit to spiritual growth

Over time, I’ve come to believe we don’t need to and quite frankly can’t “Unplug the Christmas Machine” – that machine will run even if you or I were to find a way to unplug it.

I suspect our efforts are better spent focusing on how to create humanity-rich experiences this time of year. To that end, I offer some thoughts which I’ll lovingly call “gifts” for the season. These gifts can be given to...

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