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Holiday survival

December is the season of Great Expectations. My family, especially the younger set, expects toys, lots of company, and holiday cookies.

I have expectations, too, of a house gussied up with pine boughs and carefully matched bows. Of pageants and carol sings and goodwill toward neighbors.

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However, in decorating my home for the holidays, and in other domestic endeavors, the House Beautiful image is often far from what I can achieve.

It's ironic that these days I measure myself less by the images in Vogue and more by the elaborate layouts in Martha Stewart Living. While I'm not misled by retouched photographs of gorgeous models, I am completely taken in by flawless floral arrangements.

Each year, I vow to take on fewer obligations, buy less, and enjoy more. It's a tall order. This year, I made a list that keeps the focus on family, friends, and the Christmas message.

Avoid shopping malls.

Sign only your name to

holiday cards.

Light more candles.

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Smell pine trees.

Bake gingerbread, if nothing else.

Stroke your child's hair.

Choose one party to attend;

decline the rest.

Watch a teary movie like

"It's a Wonderful Life" or

"Little Women."

Listen to Mozart.

Shut off all computers, cell phones, and fax machines.

Accept offers of help.

Look forward, not backward.

Take a bubble bath.

Dress in velvet.

Say "I love you" to your spouse.

Say it often.

Play board games.

Be silly.

Forgive yourself.

*Write the Homefront, One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 or e-mail us at

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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