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Caroline Rules

Am I A Scrooge?

Caroline Manzo puts the real in The Real Housewives of New Jersey, and her fans relate to the reality star's no-nonsense attitude, focus on family and, above all, abundant common sense. In this column, Caroline helps solve your most pressing dilemmas.

The Dilemma: I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I honestly don't enjoy the holidays. There's too much pressure to buy things and battle crowds—I prefer to just keep away from it all. How can I steer clear of the holiday hoopla without looking like a Scrooge? And how can I get into the spirit of the season my own way? —E

Caroline's Ruling: Don't be embarrassed! The holidays can certainly be a stressful time of year, and I fully understand your reluctance to battle crowds and deal with gifting dilemmas.

But the holidays are a magical time of year, and we shouldn't forget what they represent. It's a time for us to spend with family and friends, and to partake in traditions that hopefully bring us joy and create lasting memories.

Get yourself into the spirit on your terms. Maybe you prefer not to shop or exchange gifts. If you visit family or friends for a holiday celebration, then bring a tray of homemade cookies or a poinsettia and arrive with a smile on your face. Get involved by taking part in dinner preparations, decorating the tree while listening to your favorite holiday music, or even sitting down watching the classics like It's a Wonderful Life on television with everyone.

A favorite ritual of ours is driving around different neighborhoods looking at Christmas lights. I still love it. As I drive down certain streets, I can't help but smile as I remember my kids screaming in excitement when we'd pass a house with a display that would rival Rockefeller Center. My daughter Lauren and I were driving through town last week, and we came upon a house with lights that made us both start clapping—the way we have done so many times before. And yes, I'm even smiling as I write this! Pick up a young niece or nephew, a friend's child, or even just yourself. It will make you smile—I promise!

Helping others can also get you into the holiday spirit. Over the years, my family has "adopted" a family less fortunate and provided them with groceries for their holiday meal and a gift from our house to theirs. It was always done anonymously through our school system or church. They would be notified through the church or school that a gift was waiting for them. We would supply the food for a meal as well as a small tree with ornaments and sometimes, if needed, scarves, gloves and hats for the kids. It was such a great feeling knowing that you put a smile one someone's face Christmas morning.

Remember that the holidays are about sharing a moment with people you love, and creating happy memories that will outlast any material object you can buy.

  • From marriage dilemmas to family issues, Caroline's got the answers!

    Photo by Michael T. Greco
Caroline Rules
Am I A Scrooge?
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