(Inner) Peace on Earth

Shopping. Cooking. Entertaining relatives. The demands of the holiday season are beyond stressful, but we've got sneaky (some might even say Scrooge-y) tactics to help you hang on to your bliss.
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Americans are excessive. After all, we're the folks who brought you the Big Gulp, Kim Kardashian, and fried butter. Yes, we love to live large -- and can show the rest of the world how it's done -- but our fun-loving tendencies can get a little out of hand during the holidays. All we do to eat, drink, and make merry (including maxing out our credit cards and our waistlines) would likely hospitalize the residents of any other country. So this year let's draw a line in the artificial snow and pledge to take it down a notch.

Seasonal Stressor

Greeting Card Envy

No sooner has the Thanksgiving turkey been carved up for leftovers than they start arriving: the holiday cards and their bloated cousins, the annual family newsletters. You pretend to be charmed and display the cards and letters on your mantel, but your anxiety builds with each posed photo of a family on vacation, each ornate manger scene and, most of all, each chirpy update. You've been working on your own letter for weeks now. "Johnny, our 17-year-old, recently had a cameo on Cops," your latest draft says brightly. But then the mailman delivers today's haul and out falls a holiday missive from your high school best friend. She appears to have lost 30 pounds while summering at a writers' colony, where she crafted charming anecdotes about her captain of industry husband, her Olympic ski champion son, and her summa cum laude Ivy League daughter. "Yapples, our pug, took honors this year among smash-nose breeds at Westminster," she notes excitedly.

The Antidote: Dig out your high school yearbook and peer at the photo of your friend when she was fat and wore Larry King glasses. Then forget about holiday cards until January 2, when you'll send off a batch of whimsical little notes that say, "Let us be the last to wish you a Happy New Year."

Continued on page 2:  Madness at the Mall


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