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My friend Sean Patrick Sullivan wrote this a couple years ago, and it is as valid now as it was then, so I’m sharing it with you. The holidays aren’t always easy. Here’s hoping this guide makes it a little more so for you!

May I be candid? Here’s what I really think about the winter holidays:

Calm down, get a grip, have a cup of tea, and stop complaining. No one wants to hear it.

Do something nice for someone who needs it. Maybe someone who doesn’t know you. Or a charity you believe in. Or an animal in a shelter. If it feels good, drop everything else and do it again.

Host a party–and keep the menu simpler (but more thoughtful) than ever before. Require your guests to dress up. If they don’t like it, well, that’s just more Swedish meatballs for you.

Give the same damned gift to everyone–but make it cheap, cheerful, and lovingly hand-made. Take note of who appreciates it and who doesn’t. (You know exactly what I mean.)

Stop expecting anything from anyone. Including expecting yourself to do anything you don’t want to do or go anywhere you don’t want to go because you “feel like you have to.” Newsflash: You don’t.

Use whatever time off you have to rest up (not burn out) for the new year ahead. If you have a loved one who wants to hit a midnight sale, slap them.

Celebrate alone with a luxuriously candle-lit full-body-exfoliation and shea-body-buttering ritual; or at home with family in front of a roaring fire with traditional songs, scents, and scenarios playing out in the background; or with friends and lovers at a chic, sexy bistro, followed by a naughty nightcap that involves more than just mistletoe.

Parents, to whatever extent suits your religious beliefs, teach your children what Christmas really is–or can be–about. Don’t inspire or encourage them to become selfish, materialistic, over-stuffed monsters. (It’s not cute.) (And the rest of us are watching.) (And judging.) (You.)

Most of all, and most importantly, what I what really think about, when I think about the winter holidays, is you.

Yes. You. Which is why I’m wishing you (and yours) the happiest, healthiest, and most heart-warmingly magical holiday season ever. May each and every one of you create for yourself a juicy, delicious, brilliant, thrilling, sassy, captivating, memorable, worthwhile, and (most of all) peaceful next year.

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