There are lots of lists out there describing what people consider to be the most important things to do in life. And these lists have lovely sentiments. Find love. Appreciate your family. Do something you are passionate about. I don’t disagree with any of that advice. Those are important things. But all those lists avoid […]
For many of us, the holidays are disappointing. They are neither magical nor meaningful time. I find that to be incredibly sad. In my opinion, regardless of whether you are Christian, Jewish or atheist, this time of year should be special.
For me, the disappointment of the holidays started when I was a kid. When I was growing up, every kid on my street was so excited for the arrival of Santa Claus – except me. My parents were academics, and evidently the idea of Santa offended their intellectual sensibilities. As a result, at an early age I was informed that “There is no Santa Claus!” Wow.
So, as a child, I never experienced the magic of Christmas. I never experienced the excitement of wondering if Santa would come or how the reindeer would land on our roof. I never experienced that child-like wonder, which is the great part of being a kid.
As a result, when I became an adult and had a child of my own, I bent over backwards to make my daughter’s childhood “magical.” Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy all came to our house. The holidays were incredibly fun because I went to great lengths to create a world for my daughter in which a man came down our chimney and brought her elaborate presents. She grew up believing that there was a bunny who would hide eggs and presents all over the yard every Easter. The Tooth Fairy always brought her books and toys whenever a tooth was lost. And it wasn’t until she was well along in years before she figured out my rouse. But for a time, there was magic in her world – and in mine.
Now my daughter is a teenager, and the magical years are over. So, until I have grandchildren (which is a long way off!), I have no little kids in my life. As a result, each year I now try to figure out ways to make the holidays meaningful, since they are no longer magical.
Below are some ways that I’ve found to make the holidays a little bit more meaningful. If you apply them in your own life, you can have a holiday season that is both emotionally and spiritually satisfying.
Just Say “No”
The holidays quickly can devolve into a pile of obligations. It is overwhelming to feel obliged to buy a gift for every last person that you or your child has crossed paths with over the year. Then, there are the parties, school concerts and (if you are a Christian) church events. It is endless. So, at a certain point, you have to say “no.”
I will freely admit that there are a jillion people, from my hairdresser to my next-door neighbor who all deserve a present from me this year. But there is only one of me. So, at some point, I will pick and choose to whom I am going to give gifts. And unfortunately, not everyone is going to get one.
I also have to say “no” to attending the endless events involved in the holidays. I whittle down the holiday events that I attend to the ones that I “have to” attend (my daughter’s school concerts and church services), and ones that will be spiritually satisfying to me in some way (seeing close friends).
Saying “no” is the only way to keep your sanity during this season and to have the time to do things that have meaning to you.
Make the Holidays Meaningful by Reading Something Inspirational
The activity of reading is unique because it forces us to stop everything and just sit. You can listen to music and drive. You can cook, knit or do crossword puzzles and watch television. But when you read, you can’t do anything else. You just have to sit down, stop everything you are doing and focus on one thing. That is why reading is incredibly good for your sanity during the holidays, when life pulls us in too many directions at once.
But to make your reading time valuable, choose to read something inspirational. Choose to read a story about someone who overcomes an obstacle. Read something spiritually uplifting. Fill your mind during the holidays with positive, good thoughts.
Do Something Unexpectedly Nice for Another Person
Christmas is a holiday full of obligations. We are obliged to buy gifts for people because they are related to us, or because they teach our children, or because they deliver our mail. There is nothing wrong with that, but those are gifts that we buy out of obligation.
It helps to make Christmas meaningful by doing something for someone not out of obligation, but out of inspiration. Think of someone who has had a tough year and could use a little pick-me-up, and do something for that person. The point isn’t the cost of the gift. The point is to show another human being that you care about them.
For instance, give a busy mom a Starbuck’s gift card that she can use after she drops her kids off at school. Or maybe give a struggling teenager an inspiring book. Or give an elderly person a box of chocolates.
The point isn’t the gift itself. Rather what is important is the fact that you did something thoughtful to show that you care about another person. When we give in that manner, that is when we really feel the spirit of the holidays. We then are giving because we want to show our love for others. And they in turn know that they are special to us.
This holiday season, join me in making the holidays something meaningful. There is a great deal of beauty this time of year. The lights, scents, music and stories are just gorgeous. Enjoy it all. And perhaps you may not just have a meaningful Christmas, but a magical one as well. (To read about how to thrive (and not just survive) the holidays, click here.)
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