Along with goodwill and good cheer, the holiday season is just as likely to bring gaffes and grinchiness. Try this five-point mantra for getting you through the holidays with your spirit intact. Just repeat to yourself as necessary.
1. It's the thought that counts. Your mom said it first, but it still stands - even when we're talking a 200-decibel gift to your toddler. Think "regifting" (but only if you remember who gave it to you).
2. It's only once a year. Yes, your uncle's sexist jokes drive you crazy and it isn't fair that Christmas dinner is always at your house, but ignore the injustice: you'll have forgotten it by New Year's Day.
3. Everybody makes mistakes. That includes you, the toughest person to forgive. You're bound to commit some kind of faux pas, at some point - just apologize and move on.
4. Honour family traditions, but be flexible. Your family opens gifts before breakfast - his after church. Your mom always has dinner at her place; you'd like to invite friends to yours this year. Talk it over carefully, remembering that some traditions are greatly cherished. Then be creative - maybe your family could open some gifts before breakfast, and others later. Perhaps your mom would be willing to entertain your friends as well.
5. Remember what's important. I guarantee it, 20 years from now your kids will not remember that the tree was lopsided, that you served store-bought cookies or that you had hamburgers for Christmas dinner because you burnt the turkey (and if they do, it will be with laughter or fondness). The best gifts you can give are your time, love, attention and enthusiasm.