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Managing Holiday Expectations

The Christmas and holiday season is associated with many joys, but it can be a difficult time for those who have lost loved ones or are lonely. We lost our son, Will, ten years ago, and I have found that as a bereaved parent, it helps me to manage expectations for the holiday season. We no longer have the whole family present, and with new family members in recent years our holiday traditions have changed. I have learned to be flexible and experience new things. Here are some things that I have found helpful during the holiday season.

Remembering the loved ones that are no longer with us. We talk about what our son, Will, loved about Christmas. We hang his stocking. We donate money to a scholarship in his name. We also talk about what other family members loved about Christmas and make some of their favorite recipes. We light a candle for them. In doing these things, they are still with us, and they are remembered.

Experience the joys of essential oils. I spray our Christmas tree with a diluted conifer essential oil emulsion. I use a small spray bottle, add a few drops of essential oil, and fill with water. Some of my favorite tree oils to use are: pine, Idaho blue spruce, Northern black spruce. These are uplifting and add great atmosphere to the house. Frankincense is another favorite essential oil of mine, and I find ways to use it in the house, with an ultrasonic diffuser, or passive diffuser (a fabric flower or other absorbent material). It is especially meaningful since frankincense was a gift for the Christ child from the Magi.

Stay physically active. Whether you like moderate or vigorous exercise, it is a great time to get outdoors and walk, jog, or cycle. Increasing your heart rate for 30 minutes or more helps to generate the body’s ‘feel good’ compounds, and clears the mind.

Do something for others. Participating in service for others is a great way to contribute this time of year. You can volunteer at a food bank, participate in a toy drive, take a Christmas treat to someone who cannot get out. It may help you as much as the people you are serving.


Christmas Ball Bath Salts

Great for a homemade Christmas gifts


  • Bath salts ornament

  • Clear glass ornament

  • ¾ cup Epsom salts

  • 7 drops lavender essential oil


Place Epsom salts in mixing bowl. Add the essential oil and stir until mixed. Remove the top from the ornament. Using a funnel, pour the salts into the ornament. Do not overfill. Replace the top. Decorate as desired. This is enough salts for ~ 2 baths.

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