Christmas is my favorite time of the year. Even more than the day, it’s the two months prior, gearing up for Thanksgiving as the leaves fall and sliding through the festive holiday planning weeks of December. It should be magical. If you let your senses lead, all the extra junk falls to the side. No matter what happened throughout the year, Christmas can always surpass the hype that so many people focus on.
As I was thinking about my favorite childhood Christmas memories, I recognized a common theme. They revolve around the five senses. I suspect if you analyze your own holiday memories, you’ll find the same thing.
I don’t remember many specific gifts. I do remember the anticipation, the FEELing of waking up on Christmas morning. I especially remember Midnight Mass, SEEing the line of grade school angels walking to the alter in white robes and silver garland halos, holding a single white pillar candle. I remember HEARing Silent Night begin as every last light in the church was dimmed. I remember the TASTE of my mom’s Angel Wing cookies, which to my knowledge, have never been duplicated. And I remember the TOUCH of layers of warm blankets on Christmas Eve, willing myself to sleep so I wouldn’t disappoint Santa.
Our senses are our common bond and completely customizable. I hope everyone has or is able to make memories that shape a positive holiday attitude. These are the things that transform festive chaos into familiar comfort.
Even the Grinch figured that out….
“He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!”
Twenty ways to SPEND more on the right things…
1. Create—and recreate—traditions. If you have children, they may not remember exact details or appreciate the time that went into them, but they’ll always remember the feeling.
2. Forget gifts that will be forgotten. Give personal gifts that matter. They’re probably cheaper anyway.
3. Bake dozens of cookies and finally walk over to meet your neighbors.
4. Incorporate a traditional family food into your holiday meal. Recreate grandma’s special recipe or fake it the best you can.
5. Let your kids determine a new tradition. Make holiday ornaments or homemade cards. Want to really simplify? Throw out every ornament that doesn’t have a memory attached to it and start over with a bare tree.
6. Camp out in front of your Christmas tree.
7. Swap out a holiday music CD for the television to fill the house with “background” noise. (Better yet, sink into the couch listening to Michael Buble singing “Grown Up Christmas List” – you’ll sleep like a very contented baby!)
8. Go caroling (Oh come on, why not?)
9. Pack up last year’s toys and donate them to charity. For every new toy your kids get, one goes out the door.
10. Spray canned “snow” on all of your windows. Spray it on your children and spouse as well. They’ll appreciate your spirit.
11. Shop off-line. Get back out into the spirit of things, walk the downtown streets, take in the holiday tunes, eat the merchant’s free snacks.
12. Watch the same special movie and read the same holiday book every year. (My personal suggestions are It’s a Wonderful Life and The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans.)
13. Drag the whole family into your holiday spirit and don’t tolerate slackers.
14. Make paper snowflakes. (Then have a snowball fight)
15. Make a grown-up Christmas list. (Listen to Michael Buble’s song again – the list will make sense.)
16. Buy fun holiday pajamas for the whole family. Make it required attire after 9 p.m.
17. Finally do something you’ve been putting off. Need a first aid kit? A fire evacuation plan? Update your life insurance? Do it. Consider it a gift to yourself – peace of mind.
18. Start a holiday memory journal with hand-written notes and special memories. Pull it out and add a few more pages every year. Eventually, this book will be a ready-made gift.
19. Don’t complain about snowstorms. Spend an hour making and hiding your own stash of snowballs. Greet your loved ones with a special hello when they get home.
20. Bundle up and walk through your own neighborhood to see the holiday decorations – then warm up over a cup of hot chocolate. (add marshmallows or whatever supplement warms your … heart.)
Simplicity and common sense(s)…. it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!