I love Thanksgiving. Why? The food, the family, and the feelings of thankfulness for all of life’s blessings. This time of the year reminds me of how thankful I am for all of the great things in my life, and even the not-so-great things that have taught me lessons or inspired new beginnings. It’s a great feeling! But I also love Thanksgiving because it means Christmas is right around the corner… and to all of the Grinches out there… it’s December 1st, and it’s time to kick the holiday festivities into high gear!
I know that Christmas can be a difficult time of year for many because of the added expenses, like travel expenses to visit family, or feeling like you have to buy the best gifts for everyone in your life, from your mom to the postman. Also, holiday shopping makes people absolutely crazy. But, that is not at all necessary! I can help. Here are my tips for making the most of the holidays.
- Spend time with people you love. If you are traveling to see family, make that your gift. Don’t feel the need to go overboard buying gifts and shipping them to your destination. Your presence should be gift enough (unless you are a complete scrooge… then you may need to bring a nice bottle of wine to aid your hosts in putting up with you).
- Buy for the kids. Many people I know who have kids in the family stop buying gifts for each other (parents and adult siblings) and instead spend that money on gifts for the kids. Honestly, as an adult, you have enough junk, right? You don’t need another set of coasters or a new snow brush for your car. The guys in my family have PLENTY of socks, they don’t need any more. Which brings me to my next point…
- If you do insist on getting gifts for the grown-ups in your life, give the gift of time together! A couple years ago, my brother bought my family tickets to see Bob Marley (the comedian). It was such a good time – We had a great family experience together that we’ll remember for years to come. This year I’m taking my Gram to see a local performance of the Nutcracker. Another great idea is to visit your local theatre, or do a paint bar night together… the ideas are endless! All you need is time.
- Before Christmas arrives (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or Festivus… whatever it is you celebrate), spend time together! Every year, my mom, sister-in-law, and I get together to make sugar cookies. It’s fun and we each end up with a supply of cookies for sharing (or not sharing). Other favorite activities are wreath decorating, making home-made ice cream, and of course, choosing and trimming the Christmas tree. Go to the tree lighting in your town, or visit other holiday-themed events. You’ll be glad you did!
- Remember to give back. Many organizations need your help this time of year. Volunteer at your local food pantry, help out with Angels and Elves, Toys for Tots, Coats for Kids, or a local dinner bell or soup kitchen. Don’t feel like you have to spend money to give back to your community – Giving your time will make a big difference in others’ lives and help them enjoy the holidays as well.
Again, none of these things are going to cost you a lot of money, but they will cost you a lot of time. The reason I love Christmas has nothing to do with the tangible gifts I receive (well, maybe the cookies and sweets), but more to do with the time spent with my family and friends. My favorite holiday memories from childhood are the times I spent sledding with my brothers and cousins, building snow forts, making wreaths with my mom, aunt, grandmother and great aunts, playing checkers with my great grampa, Christmas day dinner with the entire family, and just being together. That’s what it’s all about! I hope you have the time to try one or two of these tips and truly enjoy the holiday season, the most wonderful time of the year!