Every year the Christmas season comes earlier. It used to be that we put up our outside Christmas lights on the last weekend of November. Shortly after, we gradually transformed the inside of our house with Christmas decorations. This culminated with the purchase of a real pine tree, which we decorated shortly before Christmas, at times as late as Christmas Eve. The earliest that we went to get our tree was a couple of weeks before Christmas.
Nowadays the stores are putting out Christmas decorations and beginning to play Christmas music in late October, prior to Halloween, something that was unheard of in the past. The lengthening of the Christmas season is definitely a marketing construction designed to extend the shopping spree that Christmas has become.
Unfortunately I find myself overwhelmed with the long duration of Christmas and I find it difficult to really enjoy Christmas the way that I used to. Between the hectic chores of shopping for gifts, finishing work projects and meeting family obligations it is getting increasingly difficult to sit back, relax and enjoy the season.
Often the times reserved for Christmas family celebrations, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, involve last-minute shopping, cooking, cleaning, gift wrapping and traveling and therefore they become a blur of hurried stress.
More and more I have found that my personal Christmas, those few moments of complete peace and contentment, fall outside of family gatherings and official Christmas events that I must attend. Sometimes it happens while I am driving around in my car looking at Christmas light displays and listening to Christmas music. It may come during an impromptu visit to a friend’s house or when someone unexpectedly drops in on me. Often it happens in the middle of a concert or Christmas pageant at my local church. Almost always it happens spontaneously.
But what if that moment does not arrive on its own? Are there ways to create that special Christmas moment and rekindle the Christmas spirit that seems to be lacking in a lot of people’s lives nowadays? Yes there is! Here are just a few suggestions of things that have worked for me to bring back the Christmas feeling that I had in my youth:
– Spend time with someone who might be feeling lonely, such as a widow or widower, or someone whose family lives far away. Go for a coffee or even dinner or bring some baking to their home and spend some time with them. This will not only provide them with some much-needed company but you will undoubtedly be giving yourself a taste of the real Christmas spirit that you were seeking.
– Buy a couple of bags of groceries for the local food bank or for a personal friend. One Christmas I did this and I made an amazing discovery. As I walked the aisles and chose items especially with my friend in mind and according to her tastes, not mine, I experienced the purest joy that I felt that entire Christmas.
– Visit a local greenhouse where festive plants are on display and don’t be in a rush. Just calmly stroll along and pause to take in all of the sights and aromas.
– Either at a Christmas flower greenhouse, in the back row of a church or beside a local skating rink, sit down on a bench and just watch and listen for at least 15 minutes. From peaceful silence and whispers to happy music, singing and playful children’s voices, let the sounds of Christmas overtake you.
– If you have children, spend some quality time with them such as baking some favorite Christmas snacks in the kitchen together or making some homemade Christmas decorations or greeting cards. The latter can be made very professionally using a computer program and printer.
– If there is a nice snowfall don’t just go outside to shovel it off your driveway. Take a walk in the falling snow or right after the snowfall. The dulling of sounds that a snowfall brings is amazing. If you have small children pull them along on a sled. For older kids go tobogganing with them, help them make a snowman or a snow fort and have a friendly snowball fight.
– Read some Christmas literature such as stories by Charles Dickens. This experience can be enhanced if you have a fireplace and curl up in a nearby chair to do your reading.
– Turn out the lights and listen to Christmas music or watch a Christmas video in a candlelit room.
– Take out your family photos, videos and movies from Christmases past and peruse them. If you really want to preserve these you can scan your non-digital photos and save them on your computer. You can even use a video editing program such as Windows Movie Maker to edit your Christmas photos and videos and save them on a DVD for future viewing.
Hopefully, by employing one or more of these breaks of tranquility in the midst of the Christmas rush, will you be able to bring back the feelings of Christmas that you once had.