When New Years rolls around little time has probably been spent relaxing since mid November. Beside day-to-day living and working at jobs outside the home, hours have been spent on special planning for Thanksgiving. Then the Christmas season swings into full force. Huge displays of decorations, both indoors and out, are usually the first item on to-do-lists. Then searching for special gifts for family and friends are tackled. Planning that special Christmas dinner is important. Travel arrangements have to be considered for both long and short distance travel. Christmas cards and news letters need to be compiled and sent. The calendar is filled with school and community holiday activities and programs. Charitable requests seem to take off with constant reminders. The bank account might even become stretched to the limit during this time.
The week between Christmas and New Years seems to be a time when minds reset to face life with a fresh new perspective for the coming year. Piles of returns might need to be dealt with, and the contemplation of removing the decorations is in order. Schools are still out for the holidays, and there are tons of Bowl games to watch. It may seem like a good time to crash temporarily.
For some reason I began comparing the Christmas holidays to other holidays and events throughout the year that do not seem as overwhelming. I counted 12, not counting Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Eve. New Years, Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Fathers’s Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Halloween, Veteran’s Day are the ones I came up with. I may have missed some.
Then there are special days such as Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President’s Day, and others that are celebrated by days off from school or the work place. Some provoke big sales days in the business world. There are special days celebrated around different cultures and religions as well.
My point is that Christmas seems to be the only holiday that is overwhelming and the most stressful. I think this might be a good time to reflect and see if planning could turn the holidays around to become less stressful. Maybe putting a spot light on the meaning of Christmas could be a start. I think reviewing the Christmas experience, while it is fresh on one’s mind, might bring some well deserved insight on what changes might bring on a more meaningful and less stressful holiday for next year.
I am at the age where Christmas has absolutely no stress attached to it, and that has been the case for years. I have alway had all of my shopping or gift making done by Thanksgiving. I was then free to enjoy holiday bazaars, attend Church and school programs, search out the best holiday lights to visit, and attend any family function that I was included in. I stopped worrying about buying gifts for family members who were in the habit of buying things they wanted or needed throughout the year.
I have three memories from this year that stand out in my heart. The first is the memory of two get-to-gathers with my family. On Christmas morning I joined my oldest son’s family for gift exchanges and then enjoyed a delightful brunch. That afternoon I had dinner with my other two sons and their families. Two of my married granddaughters and husbands and children were there as well. I had the pleasure of meeting my third great-grandson for the first time. My other two great grand children were there as well.
Memory two involves my favorite gift for the season, from number three son and his family. Besides hosting the family dinner he informed me that my gift from his family was in the form of a gift to a family in Mexico. They had provided funds to pay the expenses for their children to go to school for a year. The money provided uniforms and covered any other school expenses needed. That gift made may heart sing.
My third memory, that will live in my heart, involves a gift from me. It was for a family of seven, five children and mom and dad, that I heard about. They were found homeless, living in a tent somewhere in AZ. The family that found them wrote about them on Facebook, and a movement was born to help them. I have never been more honoured to make a donation and join in a movement to help a family begin rebuilding their lives. They were invited into the home of the family who got this ball rolling, during Christmas, for two glorious days, and enjoyed soft beds, hot showers, great food, gifts, and enjoyed warm fellowship. They have moved on and things have started looking up for them.
I would like to pass on an idea from a talented cousin of mine. She created an activity jar during the holidays. She filled it with ideas of projects written on pieces of paper. Some were things like baking and decorating cookies, going to see local Christmas lights, having a singing session of Christmas song, or watching Christmas movies. When her grandchildren dropped by they got to pick something out of the jar, and that was their activity for the day. Moments like the experiences that came from the activity jar can be priceless and cost little to nothing.
I would like to present and idea. Sit down with your families and discuss what was meaningful, and what was not, during this past season, and talk about any changes or additions for next year, that might make Christmas a “Knock out of the park experience”.