The Way to a Happy Holiday 

For the week of November 30-December 6, 2011.

The only way I know to express the astral intensity of this week and the next several weeks is to modify that old cliché: "Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a wild ride." And while you may think that I am exaggerating, over the course of the coming days and nights, as emotional tides rise to higher-than-usual holiday levels, you're more likely to think that I was underestimating the intensity.

As families and friends gather to celebrate a variety of festivals that began with Thanksgiving and will crescendo with the solstice (in all its iterations, from the actual day of the return of the light to Hannukah to Christmas to Kwanza) and ends with the New Year (which is also solstice-related), deep-seated and long denied feelings are likely to surge through the festivities, adding new depth to the meaning of "dysfunctional." (I'm tired just thinking about it.) Be prepared for meltdowns and for a wide range of declarations, some pronouncing independence, and others proclaiming revolution. The best way to ride these planetary waves is to remember the underlying message of the season: Peace and goodwill.

Several sources contribute to this week's complexity: First, we are in the wake of a solar eclipse on November 25 and headed straight for the swell of a lunar eclipse on December 10. So don't be surprised if the world continues to wobble. The eclipse effect is often felt before and after the actual events, which is why they are believed to distort time. Add in Mercury Retrograde, and that time distortion climbs off the charts. This is the final Mercury Retrograde of the year, which means some of its review is going to include looking back on the details of twelve months of unbelievable shifts, personal and collective — a review, by the way, that is completely appropriate for this time of year.

Unfortunately, the frustration of the retrograde is going to collide with two equally potent configurations: A Venus/Pluto conjunction stimulates everyone's need to have it their way, especially when it comes to love. The signature of this conjunction is fanatic love. So don't be surprised if you become obsessed with someone or something. And while passion is always a good thing, Pluto often insists on having its desires acknowledged. And given that we are also in a Sun/Mars square, the inclination to push to have what we want is going to be off the charts. A square between the Sun and Mars tends to incline dispositions toward being hasty, restless, and irritable. (I won't make my joke about those Disney dwarves just yet.) As that hot-blooded wind coalesces with the instance of Pluto/Venus and the "detail fatigue" of Mercury Retrograde, many of us are likely to be more than just a tad testy.

I realize you might get tired of the constant reminder to "play nice with the other children," but given the escalating existential anxiety about our personal and collective situations, making kindness a constant companion through this holiday season is still the wisest possible choice.

If you know your Ascendant and/or your Moon Sign, read that, too.

ARIES Channel your intensity into creative projects and you will find the release and relief you're craving. This may sound like a no-brainer, but actually concentrating on a specific idea might be harder than you think.

TAURUS Rather than trying to deny what you're feeling, give yourself permission to express your emotions, even if that makes you uncomfortable. We all come into this world needing love, a need that doesn't diminish with age.

GEMINI Confrontations with significant others over issues of safety and security could pose a problem, especially if you're unable to find the solid ground of compromise. I'm not suggesting you capitulate, but reaching out might start the process.

CANCER Try not to let harsh words spoken in the heat of the moment disrupt an otherwise beneficial relationship. Practice holding your breath until your blood pressure settles down.

LEO You thought it was a financial problem, but you're slowly realizing it's all about self-esteem. Find positive ways to improve your self-image, and almost instantly, your confidence will return.

VIRGO It won't be easy holding your tongue, so figure out a strategy that will allow you to discharge in a healthy manner. You don't have to burn down the house to renovate it.

LIBRA It isn't always necessary to say everything you're thinking, so rather than go into conversations that may stir difficult feelings in others, keep your own counsel. Some topics are best kept private.

SCORPIO The best way to deal with crabbiness, your own or others', is to find healthy ways to alter the situation. Start with laughter: Find what's funny in your "bad" situation, and you'll be amazed by how quickly your attitude will shift.

SAGITTARIUS Resist the temptation to give a few people a piece of your mind. You may have suffered fools for too long, but letting loose is likely to worsen your situation, not improve it.

CAPRICORN Speak words of love and you will definitely get everything you ask for — just try not to be greedy. And of course, remember to always be generous in return.

AQUARIUS You're required to handle a number of difficult political situations, and while you would prefer not to be the designated diplomat, you're actually much better suited for it than anyone else in the family.

PISCES You can squabble with partners, or you can remember that we are all under more stress than ever before, and therefore more than ever in need of compassion.

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