For the newly divorced person, or one who is going through divorce, this time of year can be extremely stressful, especially when contrasted with past, happier times. In Holiday Happiness Can Be Difficult to Find, Emily Hoffman mentions simplifying one's holiday just after a divorce. I find her advice to be sound. In fact, each year my Christmas preparations get easier. Where I once threw parties and decorated three theme trees, I only put up one small one that has been carefully placed for maximum effect for both inside and outside the house. Instead of giving a party, I meet friends for a holiday dinner at a nice restaurant. The nieces and nephews receive gift certificates to their favorite stores, and I take them on their shopping expedition the day after Christmas when they get twice the bang out of my buck.
I purchase consumables for friends and older relatives: wines, fine cheeses and chocolates, exotic beers, energy efficient fluorescent bulbs, spring bulbs to put into the ground, blooming plants that brighten a room, memory sticks for computers or expensive memory cards for cameras, reams of printer paper and ink cartridges for computer printers, and the like. These gifts may not seem memorable, but they are useful and easy to accumulate at sales over the year. Chances are these gifts won't be regifted, as they are so useful. I 'wrap' all my presents in pretty gift bags that I purchased on sale the year before or at the dollar store.
What is happiness anyway? I find it to be an intense emotion that lasts only a few days or hours. Often, there is a feeling of letdown after one experiences happiness. Such an intense emotion simply cannot be sustained for long. These days I strive for the mellower, steadier feeling of contentment. This not only takes less energy to achieve, but in the long run contentment can be equally as satisfying as happiness. Click here to find some ways to achieve this gratifying state: Contentment.