This holiday is meant to be a time of peace, love and goodwill to all. It is a time to give back, to spend time with loved ones. However, in more recent years, things seem to have made a turn for the worst.

Stress is the word of the season — it is what most people are feeling this time of year. Children focus on receiving the best gift. Parents begin shopping the day after Halloween, maxing out credit cards early. Homes are slopped in lights and decorations, and why? To win the best decorated house in the neighborhood award?

Go to the woods and cut your own Christmas tree with the entire family. Make it a family tradition — bring hot chocolate and drink near a campfire. Donate an entire holiday meal to the Utah Food Bank. Take all the toys you have purchased and give them to Sub-for-Santa. These are just a few things that will relieve stress and give hope.

Be involved. Don’t just think of the holidays as a time you must spend at the mall, or time wasted wrapping presents. Be the change. Volunteer — take all the money you plan to spend on presents for your family and spend it on the less fortunate.

Think of this holiday as a time to relax — perhaps, for instance, with a cup of hot chocolate in front of the fire. Over coffee, have a long conversation with your grandparents. Call a friend you haven’t talked to in a year. Send a Christmas card to your aunt in Ireland. Watch the snowflakes fall, decorate a tree, sing carols with the neighbors, attend a holiday musical.

Turn the holiday around. Take the stress out of the season. Make the last month of the year one you will never forget. “Celebrate the happiness that friends are always giving. Make every day a holiday and celebrate just living!”