The holidays are either the best of times or the worst of times for seniors. For some, it is a time of excitement, joyous celebration, family-bonding and spiritual meaning. For others, it is a painful period of isolation and loneliness. Either way, it is an important and emotional season of the year.

Whether it’s a good time or a hard time, there are steps any senior can take to improve or enhance the holiday experience. These are 10 easy ways to make your holidays better this year:

1. Keep reminding yourself that the holidays weren’t invented by Hallmark and aren’t sponsored by Macy’s. Keep the real reason for the season uppermost in your heart and mind throughout the holidays. That’s what makes it all worthwhile.

2. Keep it simple. Indulge responsibly; spend moderately and use time wisely. Avoid the stress of holiday excess.

3. Do something charitable. Donate or volunteer to help a favorite cause. It’s a way to live the holiday spirit. Doing good always makes everything better.

4. Smile more. Exchanging smiles is the secret handshake of the holiday season.

5. Make something for someone else (e.g., a picture, a poem, a meal or a promise). The best gifts don’t always come with a price tag or a designer label.

6. Add your name to your gift list. Do something special just for you. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, but only you know what you really want or need. Besides, you deserve it.

7. Spend some quiet time enjoying nature’s beauty. It’s a meaningful respite from the glare and blare of holiday commerce.

8. Listen – really listen (and sing along if you want) – to some traditional holiday music, not the “I Saw Mama Kissing Santa Claus” kind, but the “Silent Night” kind.

9. Spend time around children. The holidays aren’t just for children, but kids make them come alive. The joy and wonder of childhood is contagious.

10. Forgive someone. I can think of no better way to embody the spirit of the season.

Obviously, this list isn’t exhaustive. You could probably make one as good or better. The point is that your holidays will be what you make them. Regardless of your situation or condition – whether you’re surrounded by family and friends or are alone – you can make your holidays better, happier, more meaningful and more fun. And conversely, the only person who can spoil your holiday is you. Happy Holidays!

St. Louis Park resident Bob Ramsey is a lifelong educator, freelance writer and advocate for vital aging. He can be contacted at 952-922-9558.

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