I don't have to send out Christmas cards or write a Christmas letter. Instead, I keep in touch with friends through Facebook and my blog and face-to-face conversations and phone calls.
I don't have to buy a Christmas tree and put on all the memory-infused ornaments, from when our kids were growing up. Instead, I put up a small artificial tree to display in the window of my small winter home, and appreciate the lovely light it makes.
I don't have to buy gifts for family and friends. Instead, I donate my time to an asylum seekers' shelter and my money to the Salvation Army toy drive - which last year provided a Christmas gift to several thousand children in the Tucson community - and to The Inn Project so volunteers can buy socks and underwear, razors and deodorant, coloring books and crayons and gloves and hats.
I don't have to attend Christmas parties with more people than I'm comfortable with. Instead, Art and I can host a Christmas Day dinner for four woman friends.
I don't have to be perfect when my handbell choir plays next Sunday. I can miss that D# and still feel grateful for the opportunity to do music.
I don't have to make the Christmas cookies from my mother's recipe. Instead, I can lick the beater as Art makes his biscotti with cranberries, which he'll give out in baggies to friends over the next week or so.
I don't have to worry about the state of our divided country. Instead, I can listen to others while they say their truth, and respect what they say, and be grateful that we are all entitled to speak our minds and hearts.
I don't have to spend time wishing I had a younger, more flexible body. Instead, I can do the stretching and strengthening exercises my physical therapist has given me, and I can buy custom orthotics to put in my shoes, and I can take three short walks a day, and I can follow my Mediterranean diet with about 85% compliance and notice as my clothes get looser.