Months before the holidays, we look forward fondly to the holidays. We have great memories of family, food and gifts. But then, Halloween descends and the commercial and hectic race begins. We rush around, striving for some Hollywood created scenario all while trying to figure out, once again, what to buy everyone.
When the day comes and goes in a blink of eye, we are left exhausted and dreading the travel back home and the return to work. We never quite seem to reach that nirvana dream of a ‘perfect Christmas’ and promise to try again differently next year. But what does different look like? It starts with meaning—the meaning of the holidays.
Afterall, Thanksgiving is about being grateful, Christmas is about giving and the New Year is about hope. It’s never too late to capture that spirit and develop new traditions by finding ways to emphasize the meaning and not the activity. We can intentionally spread cheer by taking on any of the following ideas:
Promote Family Togetherness
Spending time together as a family will reinforce that it’s important to be with your loved ones no matter what.
Perform Acts of Charity
Engaging in charitable activities is one of the most powerful things you can do to remind ourselves of the purpose of celebrating the holidays.
Learn About Different Religions and Cultures
America is a melting pot of different religions, cultures and traditions, so learn about how others celebrate the holidays.
Rather than a list of what we want, why not make a list of gifts to give to others?
Manage Gift Expectations
Scale back on gift-giving and emphasize other important aspects of the holidays.
Handwrite a letter
The handwritten letter is a lost art but the uniqueness and value of it is immeasurable. Share your thoughts on paper.
FaceTime or Skype with a long-lost friend
Use technology to your advantage and reach out to someone halfway around the world to wish them happy holidays.
Buy coffee for a stranger
The concept of pay it forward should not be lost during this time of year.
Smile and say Thank You.
With the hustle and bustle, we often forget the human aspect. Everyone needs to know they are appreciated. Cheerfulness is contagious.
Leave a nice tip
Why not leave a surprise extra tip for that waiter or waitress who is sacrificing time with their families to serve yours?
Buy movie tickets for your neighbors or shovel their driveway
Be a secret Santa and help spread family time around the neighborhood.
Invite someone to dinner
Not everyone has family or can share time with family. Reach out and make sure they are not alone.
Whether you send a gift to a child less fortunate, a grocery store gift card for someone less fortunate or cash to homeless man on the corner, show appreciation for what you have while helping others. You can also donate your used items rather than discarding. And if you can’t find that ‘perfect gift’, consider donating to a charity in someone’s name.
In the end, it is about setting an example and trying to something different. Move away from the commercialism, the rushing and the bah humbug demeanor. Whether you place emphasis on religious meaning, spending time with family or giving to charity, the significance of the holiday season will become clear. Rather than missing out on the joy of the season, embrace and emphasize the true spirit. You won’t be disappointed and it might be something you choose to adopt all year round.