It’s official! The holiday season is underway. Get your orthotic shoes ready and your wallets fluffed up.

It’s during these couple of months that we get quality time with friends and relatives we don’t normally see, plus there’s rich food and drink and parties with late nights. We also get innumerable opportunities to bring joy into the lives of others — because that’s a significant focus at this time of  year.

We get to be crafty, culinary and kind. We get to be generous and compassionate. We get to do for others like at no other time of the year. Looking at the meaning of these holidays gives us the hint of self-reflection, which we’ll hopefully put into action right after the holidays … we’re just too darned busy right now.

But what is missing from all that we get? What is left out of the equation of attention, kindness, patience and generosity? We are!

We are our greatest gift but sometimes during the holidays we treat ourselves as slaves without regard for nurturing and time alone to recoup, or time spent with our own thoughts, whether it’s in meditation or just sitting in the back yard with a cup of coffee, focusing on the breath that reveals itself on rare cold mornings here in Northern California.

I don’t know about you,  but I can be open and giving to others — from family to anonymous citizens like waitstaff, other service workers, or community families with less, and, at the same time, I can forget that my heart and soul are the engine behind the activity.

What’s the sustenance that feeds our engines?

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the shopping and partying, therefore, I try to be the first recipient of my care and compassion … and so it should be that way for you too!

What do you do for others during the holidays that adds a burden to your already generous ways throughout the year? It’s surely related to one or more of the following:  time, money or energy.

I believe if we don’t put ourselves near the top of our Recipient List, we’re shortchanging ourselves and others who might benefit from our efforts.

It may seem selfish to focus on yourself first but it makes good sense. Others can’t benefit if the core of who you are during this hectic time is an exhausted, unfocused, physically drained wreck who is just trying to survive and get the holidays behind you. What’s to celebrate about that?

I’ve heard it too often — either from myself or others:  “Oh, gosh, the holidays are here already? Don’t remind me!” or “Gawd, I’m glad that’s all over with!”

There’s still plenty of time to check your priorities and make sure the gift of you is rested, calm and celebrating the joy.