It’s hard not to turn into Pat Benatar when out doing last minute Christmas shopping, you know, “hit me with your best shot”! But instead of setting my square jaw into a “don’t mess with me look“, I decided to try a different tact, smiling. Most people will smile back. Others will completely ignore you, and some will look at you like you’ve gone round the bend. Whatever other people’s reaction, it does seem to take the edge off on a personal level. Some suggest treating yourself this time of year with a day of spa pampering to relieve stress. Of course the “relieve the stress” part goes right out the window when you get the bill. Lighting candles, playing Christmas music, and making homemade holiday goodies works well for some, or curling up with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book. Besides smiling at other shoppers, I have found one of the best stress relievers for me is to take just a few minutes to watch the squirrels and chickadees race around the bird feeder in our backyard, watch my grandson play with the electric train set, or just relax on the deck, even though it’s covered in snow, and remind myself of what matters most, family and friends. So, smile everyone and Merry Christmas.