It's unfortunate that the holiday season is so painful for many people when it's supposed to be a time when we enjoy each others company and show thanks for the lives we have (even if our life isn't exactly perfect).

We believe that everyone should enjoy the holiday season and we also believe in being prepared in life. So, in an effort to bring these two beliefs together, we've assembled a short list of ways you can prepare for this years holiday season...and get yourself ready long before the holidays even get here.

There's no brain surgery or rocket science involved, just good common sense that you can use to make sure that you enjoy yourself this year and for years to come.

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For many of us, the holiday season is a time that is anticipated with both joy and anxiety. Yes, we love the celebrations, the family traditions, and we have fond memories of holidays past; but along with them, we add the stresses of preparation, expectations and the fear of letdowns, or family squabbles that have happened in the past.

Here we've provided ten tips that can help you prepare for an enjoyable, meaningful holiday season.

1. Set reasonable expectations. Spend some time now setting realistic and manageable expectations for your holiday season. Understand that you can't do everything and that there is only so much you can do. Prioritize the list of your most important events and activities and then set a pace for yourself. Organize your time. Keep in mind that it's the holiday "season" that's coming and not one day. Spread out your activities to lessen stress and increase enjoyment.

2. It's the holiday season, but that doesn't eliminate sadness or loneliness. Problems and difficulties arise even during the holiday season. For some, the holiday season evokes painful memories of events or the loss of loved ones in the past. Don't hide your feelings, let them out and work to make peace with them. Try not to let them become a consuming focus. Work hard to get through any current challenges or issues.

3. What's done is done, look forward when you can. Life brings changes. Commit to enjoying this holiday season for what it is. Acknowledging the past, whether it was good or bad, is appropriate. But, if you find that this year has been a rough one and you don't anticipate having the best holiday season, try not to set yourself up by comparing today with the "good old days." Enjoy everything this holiday season brings and take it at face value.

4. Develop and encourage a life of gratitude. Gratitude is an attribute that transcends circumstances. No matter what your circumstances, I believe there is reason to be thankful in them. Your circumstances may never change, but your attitude toward them can change...and this can make all the difference.

If you want to help your kids develop an attitude of gratitude, try this "thank you" trick. Focus on the many things in your life for which you can be thankful. Get started by having each family member create individual lists of "Ten Reasons Why I'm Thankful." It's a simple strategy that can work wonders when you concentrate on the good and not the bad.

5. Do something for someone else. One of the ways we can demonstrate that we are grateful to God for His many blessings is to help others. To get more out of this holiday season, try getting involved in serving others.

6. Enjoy activities that are cheap or free. You don't always have to spend money to spur on your families enjoyment. Try things such as driving around to look at holiday decorations, baking Christmas cookies, going window-shopping and playing in the snow (that is if we get snow).

7. Create and foster family traditions. Traditions provide opportunities to keep your families legacy going. It doesn't matter if they're silly or sentimental: your family has some holiday traditions and if possible, be sure to include them in your holiday activity plans.

8. Bring in the new. Celebrate the holidays in a new way. You may just create a new tradition that will keep going for generations!

9. Be fiscally responsible. The holiday season brings with it a big temptation to spend money beyond your means and to rack up significant credit card debt, especially when it comes to purchasing Christmas presents for your family. Be smart about how you spend. The gifts you buy will be enjoyed at the time you present them, but your kids may well have laid aside or forgotten those gifts by the end of Christmas day...even while you're struggling to make the payments. Decide now to be financially responsible this holiday season!

10. Make some time for you! Don't take on all of the responsibilities of your families holiday celebrations by yourself. Share the load. Create some space during the holidays for you to recharge your own batteries.

Have a wonderful week,

Your friend,

Todd Tramonte