As if it were yesterday, I can vividly remember Thanksgivings at my Brooklyn, New York brownstone. My mother didn\’t fancy herself a cook or a great hostess. She also had no interest in learning any new skills in this area. The holiday was therefore always marred by her negative energy. She made no bones about letting my dad and I know what a big project this holiday was and how little she enjoyed it. In retrospect of course I understand that she was run by her fears and sense of inadequacy. Too bad my mom missed the era of self-help books, Dr. Phil and the Food Channel. Who knows what might have happened?

Over the course of this month, you will be inundated with helpful hints and a plethora of recipes for Thanksgiving. You probably have a well-marked favorite cookbook on your shelf. In my New York Times best seller “One Year to an Organized Life,” I devote November to the successful organizing of this big day which I lovingly refer to as ‘The Mother of all Dinner Parties.” After all, if you can handle this meal, everything else will be a piece of cake. Tanya Russell, a professional Los Angeles based caterer offers tips and tricks and even tossed in some favorite recipes to spark your creativity. For this column, however, let\’s do some research into the past, shall we? Grab your Zen Organizing Journal (any notebook you designate for this purpose) and let\’s take a look. After I did this work myself a few years ago, I was able to enjoy a more conscious holiday celebration devoid of the negativity and drama of the past.

When you think back to the Thanksgiving celebrations of your past, what are the top five happy memories you have? List them in your Journal. Leave about five lines between each. Now go back and jot down any repeatable details for each celebration. Let\’s say, for example, that you remember with great fondness the arrival of Aunt Edith and Uncle Bob. Other than your love for them as people, you really looked forward to the pumpkin pies they habitually brought with them. Do you have that recipe? Is this pie always on your menu? If not, could you add it this year? You get the idea. Too often we don\’t consciously replicate specific details from the past that brought us pleasure.

As you might imagine, the next part of the exercise is to list five unhappy memories you have. What specific elements can you remove from your holiday plans? If you can\’t eliminate someone who is the negative element, how can you more consciously deal with this person? Can you enlist the help and agreement of the entire family? Uncle Bob won\’t know what happened!

Finally, for our purposes today, don\’t forget your budget. It\’s best to have a holiday budget that covers all aspects of your celebrations over these two months. Consider your gifts, holiday wrap & ribbon, your postage and decorations as well as your food, drink and dessert menus. And what about holiday travel? If you remember to account for all expenditures, you won\’t be shocked in January when your credit card bills arrive. In fact once you have a budget, you can pay for everything in cash and leave your plastic at home!
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If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough. – Meister Eckhart

Regina will respond to your questions here or privately. Please contact her at www.reginaleeds.com. Her books are available at all major retailers as well as on line at sites like Amazon.

New York City native Regina Leeds has brought order to home and work environments across the United States since 1988 when she started her company, Get Organized! by REGINA. Currently based in Los Angeles, her clientele run the gamut from movie stars to business people and housewives. Regina regularly travels throughout the United States to assist her clients. Regina is the author of two books: The Zen of Organizing; Creating Order and Peace in Your Home, Career and Life and Creating a Place Without Losing Your Space: a Couples Guide to Blending Homes, Lives and Clutter.