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It is starting to look like Christmas around here, and it is still November. No, I am not at the mall. I’m at the Bossy Spa, where the flame leaf sumacs have bright red leaves, and their green-leafed counterparts are sporting fantastic festive berries. When these trees bloom in the summertime, they are covered with bees. Now they are hanging with clusters of berries that serve as self-filling bird feeders.

I love to have birds, but am not too diligent about putting seeds in the feeders, so when nature makes me a feeder like this, I am appreciative. So are the birds. They eat the seeds and spread them, so we have a growing clump of these lovely trees.

Seeing their volunteer holiday display, I figured something out. It is kind of obvious when you think about it, but I had never thought about it. Our holiday decorations are a result of people bringing the outside in during whatever season they are celebrating. People who lived in places with evergreens used their boughs to make garland and wreaths. Native Hawaiian people make beautiful floral leis with the flowers available to them.

Holiday seasons can be stressful for caregivers. You have enough to do already. Now you are supposed to figure out what your patient is going to get everyone for a holiday gift, including yourself. Plus you are supposed to decorate, aren’t you? There are extra meals to prepare. You know you are fortunate in some ways. If you were an awesome person, wouldn’t you find a way to sponsor a needy family or look after someone less fortunate?

There is a simple answer, and that answer is NO. Now is not the time for risking your neck to hang lights along the second story roof line. Now is not the time to donate your barely existent free time to charity. She Who Is Not To Be Ignored at the Bossy Spa says no. This holiday season, whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or Ramadan or Kwanzaa or Winter Solstice, you are to treat yourself as your own charitable project for the season.

Whatever time you would spend thinking about the family you were going to sponsor, this year your time is for you. Send a check if you have extra, but conserve your time. There were other times when you could care for others, and you will have those times again, but not this year.

This year, decorate simply. Bring in whatever is beautiful in the outdoors near you. Put it in a vase or on the railing, and call it done. Focus this holiday season on peace on earth. Start with yourself.

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