Magazine article USA TODAY

Rediscover the Art of Celebration. (Holidays)

Magazine article USA TODAY

Rediscover the Art of Celebration. (Holidays)

Article excerpt

Admit it, you hate the holidays. Who needs the shopping frenzy, the decorating pressures, the relatives, the cooking, the wrapping, the cleaning up? Really, who needs the holidays? We all do, argues clinical psychologist Herb Rappaport, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa. If the holidays give you the blues, he indicates, it's time to take stock of what you want from them and then act accordingly--and sometimes boldly--to make them your own.

"When we dread components of our lives, something is either wrong with the situation or the way we are approaching it," maintains Rappaport, author of Holiday Blues: Rediscovering the Art of Celebration. "Holidays, like the rest of life, should be positive markers to anticipate with enthusiasm and optimism. They are to be anticipated as pauses. They force us to break away from routine and to focus on the celebration at hand.

"People need to be brave enough and imaginative enough to change things that don't make them happy. We have a culture with a lot of different value systems. And a lot of people don't really know what the holidays mean to them. We have the freedom to affect what we do at all times. The problem is that so much of our behavior seems automatic, when, in fact, there is so much room for greater personal control."

Rappaport offers what he dubs "Ten Commandments to Help Improve the Quality of Celebration":

* Embrace the holiday essence. "Emphasis and reemphasis on the meaning of the celebration takes energy and conviction. …

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