I want for my sons and stepsons this holiday what I want for all of us: peace on earth, goodwill toward others, respectful tolerance of each other's differences. That said. In addition to those humble and noble things, I want some other things for them and from them.
1) Trust your gut. If you do this, you'll avoid a lot of life's tragedies. Ask yourself the hard questions. Make the hard choice. Listen to what your soul is singing to you. If you do nothing else in this life, check in with yourself in the big moments and the small. Your gut is your divining rod and your guru, so pay attention to it.
2) Be mindful. Feel the heat of the sun, hug your brothers hard, listen to the crash of the ocean waves. Smile at the sound of babies cooing. Laugh loudly. You have this one moment and it's the one you're in right now. Experience it.
3) Be careful. Although this is a dangerous world, don't forget that most people are good. But there are those who don't wish peace for any of us. Survey your surroundings. If something feels off, walk away. See something, say something. Be safe. Know where the exits are. Do this for me.
4) Practice gratitude. You've all been through some hard stuff. But you've also had some pretty great experiences and comparatively cushy lives. I know, I know: You have friends whose parents own planes, who sip champagne on New Year's with Beyoncé, who live in majestic palaces in the middle of New York City. So? Be grateful for what you have. Never compare. Other people are suffering in ways you can't imagine. Even those who've never flown coach.
5) Roll with the punches. Life is going to hand you some lemons. That's true for you and for everyone else in the world. But it's how you forge through those hard times that will set the tone for how you live. Be a survivor. Be a thriver. Know that sometimes not getting what you think you want is for the best. That you won't always get that promotion. That someone you love with your whole heart will break yours. Resilience is everything in this life. Figure out how to make it part of yours.
6) Be generous. With your heart, your mind, your time, your money, your words. Generosity: It's the gift that keeps on giving.
7) Love like everyone is watching. Shower your family and friends with affection. Be a loving example for everyone you meet. This quote from the Showtime series,The Affair, pretty much sums it up: "If you believe [in the power of love], and you conduct your life in a way that respects its sanctity, then it will always be there to serve you." Tattoo those words on your heart. Figuratively, of course.
8) Believe. Pray. Let God in. If organized religion isn't your thing, figure out a way to make spirituality a part of your life. If being your best self and living honorably is what God means to you, by all means, go for it.
9) Choose wisely. In most things in life, we do have choice. Whether you're deciding to get married or weighing whether to scrap it all and change your life, take your time in making important decisions. Weigh your options. When you think you've decided, reflect on what making the opposite decision would mean. Our choices cast a wide net, so make sure yours are not only good for you, but for those you care about.
10) Be good to your mom/stepmom. I'm the only one you've got. If you're in the neighborhood, stop by. Check in with me during snowstorms. Call just to tell me about something amazing you saw or experienced. Send me a link to a funny dog video. Tell me about that beautiful sunrise, that fabulous party, that lovely woman you'd like to ask out. Tell me. Because that's all I really want for the holidays and always: a connection to the people I care the most about. You.