As the holiday season approaches many people are feeling the stress of adding shopping, wrapping, baking, decorating, work and family events to already overburdened schedules. It’s ironic that a season of gift-giving and well-wishing is also a season of such physical, mental, emotional, and financial stress.

In my own family in Canada we tried to do something about that stress by creating Secret Friends. Each year on the 1st of December we pick our secret friend’s name out of a hat, and for the next 24 days we undertake to make that person feel special; secretly of course. So, during the month we might find chocolates in our jacket pocket, our car cleaned out, our bed made, a special message hidden in our cereal, or a fun scavenger hunt for trinkets. It all culminates on Christmas Eve when the secret friends are revealed and one present is given from each secret friend with a limit on how much we could each spend.

What I love about this tradition is that it inspired me to think about my secret friend daily, and come up with creative ideas about how to surprise them, make them feel special, and keep it anonymous. And of course finding chocolates in my pocket from my own secret friend was always awesome!

As well, we didn’t have to break the bank to have a wonderful Christmas. There was less crowding into the shops to find something…anything…to give to each family member. So, there was more time to get together and bake cookies, play in the snow, do puzzles and board games, and really celebrate our togetherness.

Unfortunately, because I live in Australia now, I have been found to be ineligible to take part in the Secret Friends game. So, this year I’m going to try to be a secret friend to the people around me. It will give me back my holiday spirit, and perhaps bring a smile to the faces of those around me while they shop, bake, wrap etc. Maybe you’ll join me in this Christmas caper…or perhaps you’ll be the one to find a few chocolates in your pocket!

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