Hi, I’m Kaitlyn and last year I hated Christmas.

Okay, maybe hate is a strong word, but I never really understood the hype about it. I don’t know what it was about it, but it never set right with me. It was cold, it showed, I was stuck inside, and had no one to spend the holidays with for the most part. Everyone was busy with other things, and I was happy for them! It’s good to have family! But when it’s just your parents and you for the holidays, it gets kind of boring. Its nothing special, just another family dinner. (Not including the gifts, we’re talking about waking up in your footie pajamas and booties and jumping into the car, on the way to some good old fashion genuine familial bonding over dinners and lame jokes.)

And I did appreciate it! But I appreciated it as much as I could, knowing there was nothing different about the day save for the gifts, which are nice and all but only temporary when the surprise wears off.

Since I found out Santa wasn’t real, the magic had left the household, and Christmas was just another day. Recently, however, I have found myself in much better spirits about the holidays by taking these four stepseasy steps.

The first step is to give into the tackiness. My true start to the holidays wasn’t until my mother and I stopped by Walmart, and I laid eyes on the tackiest, best looking fake pumpkin I have ever seen. Pick it up, don’t think about where to put it or what to do with it, just do it. I didn’t have any place to put the pumpkin, nor did I have a place to put the matching autumn themed plaid bird, but I picked it up for cheap and made it work. It now sits on my desk, watching me as I write articles. Just that alone set my mood for the good autumn season- thanksgiving and present. And! They can work for Christmas too!

The second step is acceptance. I already know my Christmas will be small, and I am thankful for that. I love my parents and my family as it is, even if it isn’t what it use to be. No, we may not be visiting family as often as we use to, but it is less stressful this way, and it allows time to truly focus on what’s important. The kids are still young and there is still magic in seeing the excitement on their face. Focusing on the positive is such a strong mechanism in enjoying the holidays.

Third, relish in the cliches. There is a reason they are cliche, and it’s because they are comforting. Get hot chocolate or coffee, get your pajamas on (they don’t have to be flannels, just whatever is comfortable) or a pair of leggings and a sweatshirt, grab a book, light candles, do it all because it’s the season of solace.Also, invest in some booties from walmart- not the fuzzy socks, even though those are nice, but the booties- like the ones pictured They are thicker, fit snug, and have cute designs and little bows on the top. Animals hibernate because they are hungry, humans hibernate in the winter because it’s comfortable. There is no shame in being holed up when it's thirty degrees outside, and you would be amazed by the change a nice warm room with candles can make. Just make time for yourself.

Four, give. I can honestly say this change was the biggest in my mood this season. As someone who doesn’t usually give gifts around the holidays- be it from lack of money or due to not knowing what someone would like- I spent a grand total of a hundred dollars on five gifts, roughly twenty dollars each. This isn’t about the price, it never should be, but it is just to put in perspective at the drastic change from past Christmases where I did not buy a gift for one reason or another, and therefore had nothing to look forward to except my own gifts. Even getting my own wasn’t as exciting as the idea of shopping for my parents or my niece and nephew, wrapping them up, and sitting them under the tree. I look forward not only to seeing my own gifts, but more so to see their faces when they see how I thought about them.

When it comes to the autumn and winter seasons, it’s all about the small changes that can set the mood. Dimmed lights with a string of fairy lights over your bed, or a cup of coffee with candles. Getting into the spirit is easy, even if the spirit hasn't been in you in the past. The most important thing is to do things for yourself, make time for yourself, especially after a long semester or a long day at work. During this time of year, it’s good to be a little selfish.