Christmas time is here but do you really want to deck the halls with boughs of holly? Are you left cold by the commercialism, and yearn for a simpler time when the season felt special, imbued with a spirit that wasn’t poured into the eggnog? Do you really feel like recapturing some of the magic and wonder of the season—the spirit of Christmas—and setting aside the mad rush to go out and buy just for the sake of buying? You can do it!
Whatever your reason, or whatever your notion of the season might be—a celebration of the birth of Jesus, the magic of Old Kris Kringle, goodwill towards mankind, a close time for family and loved ones, or a simple reflection of the meaning of the winter solstice, here are some things you can do to recapture your Christmas Spirit.
1. Put gas in your SUV, or whatever it is you use to collect and deliver your gifts.For you, the spirit of the season is about holiday parties at the office, finding a parking space at the mall, hustling and bustling to get the best deals, exchanging gifts with friends and loved ones, and best of all: the look of delight on your loved one’s faces as they open the gift that’s exactly what they wanted—even though they never said a word about it!
- Maybe you’ve lost the spirit of Christmas, many others have, too. The over-commercialization of the holiday has sapped the pleasure from what should be a joyous time. It doesn’t have to be that way.
2. Avoid the crazy crowds. Whatever your reason for the season, nothing can kill the holiday spirit quicker than being crushed against the front of a store by gun-wielding mobs of bargain-crazed shoppers.
- Shop at the stores of local producers. Most of the things you can find in malls and big box stores are mass-produced, cheaply-produced junk anyway. Giving junk as gifts is almost as soul-sapping as being in shopping mob.
- There are many gifts that fall outside the world of Christmas: handmade jewelry; artisan meats, breads, and cheeses; charitable gifts that donate money to a cause, given in the recipient’s name; even gifts of things that you make well yourself, whether that’s a hand-knit sweater, a work of art, a delicious dinner, or more. Simply ask yourself what you do well, and offer a bit of that as a gift.
3. Close your eyes (after you read this step). Now, imagine your best Christmas ever. It might have been when Santa got you that bike as a kid, or maybe that Christmas Eve that he proposed to you. Ask yourself: why was that special, and what did it feel like?
- If it was simply that sense of wonder and how it felt like everybody was “nicer” somehow, then actively seek where that is happening. If it’s the look of delight on children’s faces, go find the best Santa in town, and soak in the total belief in a magic elf who delivers presents to children all over the world.
- Keep a smile on your face, and walk with your head up, making eye contact as much as you can. Greet everybody—young and old, even people you might instinctively dislike—with a hearty “Merry Christmas.” You may not even believe it yourself at first, but give it some time and effort.
4. Decorate your house. It doesn’t matter if you have a house full of kids, or are just on your own. Enjoy the trappings of the season in any way you can.
- If you have the space, head to the hills and harvest a tree. If that’s not possible in your area, head to the local parking lot stuffed with trees.
- Either way, get one a couple weeks before Christmas, turn on the Christmas music, put up the tree, and decorate it. Your home will smell like Christmas, and it’s hard to be unmoved by that!
- Add a wreath to your front door, so that every time you come home that’s the first thing you’ll see.
5. Reach out to friends and loved ones. It may be in the form of Christmas cards, or through the telephone or the Internet, if they’re not nearby.
- If you Skype or do a Google Hangout with video, set it up if you can so that your Christmas tree is in the background, all lit up.
6. Enjoy Christmas television. “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings!” Whether your tastes run towards the traditional Miracle on 34th Street, the classics like A Christmas Carol by Dickens (or it’s modern comedic take with Scrooged), stop-action animations like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or Nightmare Before Christmas, or cult classics like A Christmas Story, holiday television is filled with nostalgia, humor, morality plays, and lots of simple, fun entertainment.
7. Eat seasonal foods. It’s the season of candy canes, eggnog, pumpkin pies, mulled drinks, and roasted foods. Whether you do it yourself, or pick up some yummies at the grocery store, the aromas from the kitchen combine with the aromas of the evergreens that can transport you back in time to that best Christmas ever!
- Even if the kitchen is anathema to you, try it—make a batch of your favorite cookies, for you and your family. Snickerdoodles, peanut butter cookies, or just plain old sugar cookies are all good. And if you have kids, help them decorate those tasty morsels.
8. Divide and conquer. If you dread the holidays because of all the work that has to be done—cooking, cleaning, wrapping, cleaning, more cooking, more cleaning, shopping, more cleaning…stop!
- Share the load. If you have a spouse, make a plan. If you do the cooking, your spouse does the cleaning. If you do the shopping, they do the wrapping. Most Christmas chores are like that, so take advantage of your spousal unit to lessen the load. If you have kids, they can do the cleaning—and you have the perfect leverage. Just start whistling,
- Oh, you better not pout, you better not cry,
you better watch out, I’m telling you why…
Santa Clause is coming to town!
9. Make the perfect Christmas dinner. That may vary, both on your tradition, your means, and your family. If you’ve always lavished your Christmas dinner with a great deal of attention and preparation and fuss, but you have grown weary of it, make it simple! Tell your family in advance, so they’re not expecting the Christmas goose, and get grilled cheese sandwiches instead!
- Make your family’s favorite dinner—whether that’s grilled tofu or your famous bacon-cheeseburgers, make what they love. Even if it’s not a 4-course, gut-busting meal, they will be guaranteed to love it. And you’ll love the lack of stress!
- Take a cue from the Jews, and eschew the home-cooked Christmas feast. Go to your favorite Chinese restaurant, and please pass the soy sauce!
10. Turn on the music. There is a wealth of holiday music that will bring forth warm memories of Christmases past, chief among those is the glorious Handel’s Messiah. It is a work that is filled with familiarity, soaring themes, inspiring melodies, and brilliant passages.
- Christmas carols are also wonderful and inspiring to listen too. It’s hard to stay outside the spirit of Christmas when the spirit is flowing through you with these celebratory songs of joy. To make them even more meaningful, gather some friends and family this year, and go Christmas caroling in your neighborhood. Just stay warm, and have some hot chocolate or apple cider for when you get home!