Christmas can be a tough time of year. I know this from experience. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the demands on our time, bank accounts, sanity. For many years, I have struggled to hold onto any kind of genuine Christmas spirit, and then I beat myself up for not feeling the way I should feel. So helpful. I am learning that it doesn’t have to be this way. The joy of Christmas is free.
Here’s what’s working for me:
1) Let someone in line in front of you. Be it at the grocery store, or merging in traffic. Wave someone in and let them take your spot. Do it graciously. With a smile. It’s a little thing, but it’ll make you feel great, and it’s free.
2) Withhold judgment. That toddler who is face down on the ground screaming his head off? Instead of thinking “Ack! What a brat!” think instead that maybe the poor kid has just been dragged to 15 stores and is over this whole Christmas shopping deal. Or perhaps they are developing an ear infection and Mom is killing time in the toy aisle while their prescription is filled. Grace is free.
3) Take a little kid to a Christmas parade. If you don’t have one, borrow one. There’s magic in seeing the season through the eyes of a child.
4) Do some cleaning. It doesn’t have to be a big project. Tackle a drawer, a cabinet, even a closet if you’re brave. Find five things to donate to a charity (did you know animal shelters would LOVE your old towels?). Not only does it feel great to straighten things up a bit, it’s sometimes helpful to realize how much we already have. Straightening my family room and seeing the embarrassment of riches reaffirmed our decision to limit what the kids are getting this year.
5) Simplify. The calendar, the gift list. Trim what isn’t necessary. I bow out of any evening meetings that pop up toward the end of the month, and we only agree to the activities that will add to the feeling of joy. The gift list is at a minimum, partly because we’re on a budget, but mostly because running around like chickens with our heads cut off to complete a gift list detracts from the meaning of the season.
5) Pour a cup of hot chocolate and watch a Christmas movie. And any good movie will do, as long as it says Christmas to you. I recommend The Nativity Story, which is a beautiful interpretation of the Christmas story. Amadeus is on my Christmas movie list, too, because it always played on television at Christmas time. Whether it’s a Griswald Christmas something Dickens-ish, many libraries offer movies as free loans. Check out their selection.
6) Share your memories. I love to talk about favorite Christmas memories. Bringing back the magic of my childhood warms my heart. Find someone to share your stories with, and listen to theirs. In fact, what I want most for Christmas is for my friends and loved ones to write out their favorite memories for me.
7) Listen to Christmas music. NOT these songs, unless that’s what does it for you. I say go for the good stuff. A little Tchaikovsky, some Handel, stuff without lyrics that get stuck in your head. Again, these are often a free loan from the library.
8) Put some money in the bucket. Okay, this one isn’t free, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot. I keep a pocket full of change to drop in the Salvation Army buckets. Our tradition is to drop change into every bucket we pass. We don’t have a ton of money to spare, but it’s a constant reminder that we are already so blessed; having a little something to give is just a bonus. And it’s a good opportunity to teach the kids about giving.
9) If you don’t feel it today, try again tomorrow. That’s the thing about depression. It is a sneaky-snake of a voice that tells us we’re never going to get it right. And it’s a lie. If today was not a great day, get up tomorrow and try it again. My commitment to myself this season is to not let yesterday’s mistakes spill over into today. It’s a new day, friends. And it can be glorious!
How do you add joy to a holiday season?
If you “borrow” a Kid for a parade, ask for permission first or that could REALLY mess up your Christmas spirit. Marjorie L. LoVette
Oh, shoot! I should have been more clear, right? Permission, folks! No one wants to spend the holiday in the clink!
Thanx for these practical ways to be a ‘Conspirator of Love’ this holiday season..
grace, peace & conspirators – Virginia : )
I love this kind of conspiracy. Even if I can’t spell it!
Donating to the Salvation Army is excellent. My daughter is a human resource manager for the SA in San Francisco. They do amazing work.
They do a wonderful job over here, too.
You nailed it! Great list. I shared it with my Mom. She’ll love it.
I LOVE this. Love it. I will work on #6 for you today. ❤
I could not be happier! I was hoping you would!
Hey, we’ve got snow falling on our blog pages – isn’t that enough?! Seriously though, lovely ideas – it’s all too easy to forget what it’s about 😉
I don’t have snow on my blog, just on my stats page. I could do with a little snow. It’s in the 70s today.
Love this, and love you for spreading such joy.
In the past, I’ve made things entirely too complicated for myself. Easy is good. I can do these things!
This is wonderful and I agree with nearly everything. However, I have stopped giving to the Salvation Army, and it makes me sad, because I think they do a lot of good. But I have written letters and emails questioning their refusal to hire gays, and all I get in response is requests for donations. They are completely tone-deaf even to the question, let alone providing an answer. So no money until they change their homophobic policies, or at the very least respond to my questions.
Bravo Wiggins! I agree 100%. (sorry to steal the spot cliche) I do the Salvation Army angels, because I think the kids deserve it, but don’t like to donate directly.
Great ideas! I’ll be glad when I can get off the sofa (knee surgery)! So much to do… and no way to do it for now. I like your ideas though. 🙂
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Awesome. Kind of thought Squish was crying at first. ho-ho-ho I’m gonna eat you 🙂
Posted on Facebook.
We’re decorating for the first time in 4 years tomorrow. I plan to make homemade hot chocolate. 🙂
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Excellent ideas! I tend to grinch-hood, but I guess I could try one of these. 🙂
Wow, wonderful list. I like the limited list, we have agreed on not giving anything among adults other than spending time together and, obviously, the joy of giving gifts to the children. It is my greatest Christmas pleasure that I don’t have to spend the whole advent coming up with sensible, not-too-expensive gifts for everyone and then having to hunt them down to boot. Simple pleasures.
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Love love love! This is what December looks like at our house. You know, mixed in with the insanity of the holidays. My favorite: letting someone in front of you in line. What a free, easy way to make someone’s day.
Love your list! I especially love number 5. I struggle with this idea all of the time. I need to work toward it this season. Thanks for sharing!