This holiday season, make two lists and check them — twice (The Long View)

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By the time you read this, there will be a mere three weeks until the biggest gift-giving occasion in our culture, Christmas Day.  No doubt your next 20 days will be marked by arrangements to make everyone on your list feel special with the present you selected for them.

But on Christmas morning (or whatever day and time your family opens gifts), what will your reaction be to the tokens of affection your dear ones bought for you? 

By the time you read this, there will be a mere three weeks until the biggest gift-giving occasion in our culture, Christmas Day.  No doubt your next 20 days will be marked by arrangements to make everyone on your list feel special with the present you selected for them.

But on Christmas morning (or whatever day and time your family opens gifts), what will your reaction be to the tokens of affection your dear ones bought for you? 

Will you struggle to show pleasure over bedroom slippers you loathe? Will you summon all your acting skills to fawn over the electronic barbecue fork that may not outlast the first tough T-bone on your grill?  Will you fight to feign delight over that brass bottle opener, steer horn shot glass, desktop organizer, and pungent fragrance someone gives you?

And, after considering the options on re-gifting or finding a suitably dusty corner to warehouse these things, will you ask yourself one more question?  That is, will you wonder why you didn't tell people what you really wanted?

As smiles and thank yous are exchanged over the ribbons and wrappings covering the floor, you are busyhiding your disappointment.  But the truth of the matter is you have no one to blame but yourself if you did not do the loving thing by telling your loved ones what you really desired. Make a gift list for them to use: you and they will both be glad.

Now, here's another surefire way to brighten your holiday season. Lots of people end up complaining that this time of year is one, long, hectic marathon of rushing from one social obligation to another, largely in the company of people whose company does not thrill you.

Grab that pencil you used for your gift list, and write down the names of those with whom you would really like to spend some time at this special time of year.  Next, using their phone numbers or e-mail addresses, make contact with those people on your A-list.  The sooner you get those folks on your calendar, the sooner you'll be set to enjoy the season’s social gatherings, and the easier it will be to turn down invitations to see people you really don't want to see.

“Sorry,” you'll smugly say, “but I'm already booked that night.  No, that night, too.  Guess we'll just have to wait until next year.”

With these two lists, you will absolutely reduce the hassle and social stress of your holidays.  And next year, when those who employ your gift list returned the favor by making one for you to use, you'll be ready for a season of serene giving and receiving.  If those are not tidings of comfort and joy, I don't know what are.

Carry on, then, with a little more heft to your ho-ho’s and a tad more twinkle in your eye.  You can't control if Christmas is white or not, but you can sure set things up to make it more merry.

Pat Grimes, a former South Bay resident, writes from Ypsilanti, Mich. He can be emailed at pgwriter@inbox.com

This holiday season, make two lists and check them — twice   (The Long View)