The holiday season is approaching. It must be ‘cause the trees are turning the most optimistic yellow gold and I’m planning a halloween party.

More evidence: I’ve been knitting stockings.

Such an old lady thing to do, but I don’t care. I suddenly love knitting.

I love the challenge of learning how to do color-work and knit in the round so that my stripes match up without a jog. In knitting, a jog is a place where color changes come together in a messy hop of color. My stockings are definitely not perfect.

Some of my hand-knitted stockings look like my 12 year old self knitted them.

That’s ok with me. And I’m getting better.

You wouldn’t think knitting would be a good mental exercise, but in fact it is. Sometimes I have to turn off a TV or leave a room occupied by another human to concentrate on a new technique.

Sure, I can knit a long scarf and do many things at the same time. But what fun is that?

I want a project that makes my brain light up.

Christmas stockings are perfect for this. Here’s why.

  • They’re small. I can get them done in a few weeks.
  • They’re special to the recipient because GIFTS! are inside every Christmas morning.
  • They get put away for the next year. Nobody has to figure out what to do with them. They get put away with the special Christmas decorations, and then, they’re special again next year.

Plus, a hand knitted anything is an instant heirloom.

So what does this have to do with mental health?

Stay with me and I’ll explain.

I challenge you to find something to keep you serene, peaceful and engaged but not burdened.

Knitting works for me. Its a quiet oasis. Knitting does not have a due date. (It could, but I’m not allowing it.)

It’s time to think about how you want to spend your time this holiday season. Make a list. Then cross off half your list.

Think about what would be the most meaningful way to celebrate the holiday that is also manageable. And affordable.

For most of us, Covid 19 was a shock to our holiday habits. You may still be grieving some of those losses.

At the very least, the pandemic gave us a break from the break-neck speed with which we used to careen through October-November-December.

Let’s not go back to that scary pandemic. Let’s imagine what a better holiday would look and feel like to us.

Whether you will be alone, with a few close loved ones, or with a pandemic defying party hopping crowd, I want you to plan now to create your best case scenario.

I suspect I’ll be doing some of each of the above.

Plus, I’ll be knitting.

Because it keeps me serene.