December 2016 Parting Thoughts

Finding the True 
Spirit of Christmas

My family used to put up outside Christmas lights during the last weekend of November. Shortly after, we gradually transformed the inside of our house with decorations. Then we purchased a real pine tree, decorating it shortly before Christmas, at times as late as Christmas Eve.

Nowadays, the stores put out decorations and begin to play Christmas music in late October, prior to Halloween—definitely a marketing construction designed to extend the shopping spree that Christmas has become. I find myself overwhelmed with the long holiday. Often, the times reserved for family celebrations involve last-minute shopping, cooking, cleaning, gift wrapping and traveling—a blur of hurried stress.

More and more, the few moments of complete peace and contentment I find usually fall outside of family gatherings and official Christmas events. Sometimes, it happens while I am driving around looking at lights and listening to Christmas music. It may come during an impromptu visit to a friend, or when someone unexpectedly drops by. Often, it happens in the middle of a concert or a Christmas pageant at my local church. It almost always happens spontaneously.

But what if that moment doesn’t arrive on its own? Here are a few suggestions that have helped me to rekindle true Christmas feeling:

  • Spend time with someone who might be feeling lonely: a widow or widower, or someone whose family lives far away. Go for a coffee or dinner, or bring some baking to their home.
  • Buy groceries for the local food bank or for a friend. One Christmas I did this and made an amazing discovery. As I walked the aisles and chose items for my friend—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. Don’t be in a rush. Just calmly stroll along and pause to take in all of the sights and aromas.
  • Sit in the back row of a church or beside a local skating rink and just watch. Listen to the peaceful silence and whispers, or to the happy music, singing, and playful children’s voices. Let the sounds of Christmas overtake you.
  • If you have children, bake some favorite Christmas snacks or make homemade decorations or greeting cards.
  • If there is a nice snowfall, don’t just shovel it away. Walk in it. Make tracks. The hush that a snowfall brings is amazing. If you have small children, pull them along on a sled. Go tobogganing, help the kids make a snowman or a snow fort. Have a friendly snowball fight.
  • Read some Christmas literature, such as a story by Charles Dickens. If you have a fireplace, enhance the experience by curling up near the fire.
  • Turn out the lights and listen to Christmas music.
  • Peruse your family photos, videos and movies from 
Christmases past.

Hopefully, by taking a tranquility break in the midst of the holiday rush, you will you be able to bring back the true feeling of Christmas.

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