As my nine-year-old and I battled the hordes of shoppers at the discount mall on Black Friday, I pondered on this ironic reality: At what SHOULD be the “most wonderful time of the year,” most parents — moms in particular — are stressed out, angry, sleep-deprived, and downright nasty. At least I am (and please tell me I'm not the only one)!

Fighting the urge to smack a little old lady in the back of the head with my shopping bag, in retaliation for running over my foot with her shopping cart, I resolved to find a way to make this season different. After all, isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Finding the holy within us, even when we’re feeling anything but?

So here are my five intentions for this season.

1. Take time to appreciate the little things.

Yes, there’s egg to nog, presents to wrap, and bills to pay. But as I sat in front of the fire, sipping watery instant hot chocolate, and snuggled my five-year-old, I realized that this is where peace comes from — not from crossing off one more task on my to-do list.

2. Just say no.

One of the reasons we feel so stressed at year-end is that we load our schedule with event after event, trying to cram in one more holiday sing-along and yet another charity project. This year I bypassed the Christmas card fundraiser at my daughter’s preschool, refused to be lured in by Cyber Monday, and used the time to clean my closet instead. Instant energy rush!

3. Ask the kids for their opinions.

We often justify overdoing things, telling ourselves, “I want the holiday to be special for my children!” But if you ask the kids in question, they’d tell you they’d prefer a take-out dinner and a sane mom, rather than a stressed-out shrew and a picture-perfect meal. Ask your family members what makes the holiday special for them, then focus on those items. I was a tad bit disappointed when everyone told me my from-scratch sweet potatoes would not be missed at Thanksgiving dinner, but in reality, I was relieved not to have to add one more dish to the meal.

4. Accept help.

I admit it, I’m not so great on this front. I’m good at asking for help, but then I criticize and micromanage and make my helpers generally miserable. Now, I’ve resolved to let my assistants do things their way. My daughter wrapped a whole pile of packages for me, and they may not be Martha Stewart-worthy, but they’re DONE (and even Martha had to start somewhere, right?).

5. Enjoy the bustle.

As I was viewing the throngs of early-morning shoppers on Black Friday, I realized how silly the whole thing was! Millions of people around the globe were getting up at o-dark-thirty, braving the weather and packed parking lots, to save a few bucks. That is funny! In fact, much of the craziness of the holidays is funny — and self-imposed. So I decided that I’m going to get a kick out of Christmas, instead of feeling like I got kicked by Christmas. Hey, at least I’m not 9 months pregnant, riding to Bethlehem on a donkey. Now THAT’s a mom with some serious griping rights.