Editor's note: This column originally was published in 2008.
Each year as I make my way through torn wrapping paper, trying not to step on little pieces of toys that are being assembled, the same thought comes to mind.
We've been preparing for this day for months, and it's over all too quickly.
Is it possible to capture the joy of anticipation and savor it all year long?
It's hard to imagine keeping the Christmas spirit going, especially because energy levels and bank accounts need some time to recover.
This year, it's exceptionally hard because of challenging economic times and the air of uncertainty that prevails. Fear of the unknown can be a source of stress, but only if we allow ourselves to dwell there.
Instead, this week leading into the New Year can be a satisfying step in the right direction if we are determined to make it so.
What's the best way to deal with the after-Christmas letdown? We need to think outside of our immediate situation, concentrate on the needs of others and look to the future with hope. As we do this, our children learn that life is a continuum. There's always something to look forward to, and there are always people who can use our help. Sometimes it's the little things that can lift our spirits.
As you pack away your Christmas decorations, sort through ones that you no longer use and pack them in a separate box to sell at a yard sale or to donate to charity. You will feel more organized.
While you're feeling that way, read one chapter of a home organization book. Pick one idea — just one — you can use this year and start putting it into practice. Once that one seems to be a habit, you can always add another one. (Don't bite off more than you can chew.)
Rearrange the furniture in one room of your home. Even if you only switch the placement of two items, the change might do you good.
Clean out your fridge. Do this one shelf at a time. Take everything off a shelf. Scrub with warm soapy water and wipe dry.
Toss items with expired use-by dates. Then return the other items to the shelf. If you want to quit after the first shelf, go ahead. Do the second shelf tomorrow. By the end of the week, the whole fridge will be clean and you won't have felt overwhelmed by the process.
Reach out to someone who is lonely. Take a meal to an elderly neighbor. Ask a teenager what he's listening to these days. Tell a busy mom you admire her diligence.
Write a note to a friend you didn't see over the holidays. Be sure to include a "remember-when-we" story. Even if it has been years since you were together, your memory-jogger will bridge the gap.
Invite a friend to come over. You don't have to have an elaborate spread. Opt for salads, veggies and fruits. You'll feel so much better with good things to eat. Then, instead of a movie, choose a game for heightened camaraderie and fun.
Forgive someone who has hurt you. Even if there is no remorse expressed by the other person, you can decide to forgive. Forgive and forget not for the other person's sake. Forgive for your own sake. It will be the best gift you receive this holiday season.
Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send email to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.