Christmas is a wonderful time of the year. People seem to have a lighter step, a bounce, a smile, are more inclined to say hello and wish you well.
But it also seems more commercial than yesteryear.
Some if its deeper meaning seems to have faded against the backdrop of the glitz and glam of the consumer season. Retailers add holiday bling to store fronts and advertisers go into overdrive (and our bank accounts into overdraft) in response.
Following are 25 suggestions (yep, as in Dec. 25) that can add more meaning to your holiday celebrations.
The result will be a more profound experience, and perhaps one that will leave you a tad better than you were before: kinder, more generous, deeper, in touch and in tune with what the season is all about.
25 Ways to Add Meaning to the Holidays
1. Research the history of the occasion and share what you learn with friends and family.
2. Use the day to connect with people you care deeply about. Get together. Strengthen bonds. Laugh. Talk. Love.
3. Give a creative gift from the heart (something homemade) instead of busting your budget or depleting your life savings, or having to sell a kidney for the money. My favorite was a financially tight Christmas years ago when we all made Christmas ornaments for each other as gifts. We still use them today!
4. Instead of giving gifts (except, perhaps for the younger kids), use the money you would have spent on each other and donate it to a good cause. But make this a family decision – no dictatorial proclamations, or you may be adding a very different kind of meaning to this holiday than the one intended!
5. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or food bank.
6. Create a stocking full of treats and gifts and place it (them) on a doorstep of someone you know has lost their job or has no family.
7. Deliver a food basket to a homeless person.
8. Talk to others about what is most meaningful about the holiday. Simply having this kind of conversation will underscore its significance for you.
9. Write a letter telling someone you love (or someone you need to forgive or who you’ve offended) how much you care for them and appreciate them as you wish them a Merry Christmas.
10. Make doing a good deed everyday from this reading to the end of the year an annual part of your Christmas tradition.
11. Go to church/synagogue/temple as part of your celebration.
12. Find an inspirational movie about the holiday and watch it with family and friends. Our favorite is the Frank Capra classic It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart.
13. Sit down with your family and establish some new traditions that will build meaning into the season and into the future. One of ours is to deliver cookies to neighbors and friends on Christmas Eve, then sit down and watch It’s a Wonderful Life together.
14. Deliver cookies to neighbors, family and friends.
15. Go Christmas caroling at the burn victims ward.
16. Visit a shelter for abused kids to read books or play games with them.
17. Read How the Grinch Stole Christmas or A Christmas Carol or Little Women or any other favorite work that touches on deeper elements of the holiday.
18. Read the Christmas story in the Bible to see how it all got started.
19. Learn some of the symbolism of the Christmas tree, the candy cane and the stockings.
20. Have each of the kids choose one of their gifts to take to a poor family who won’t otherwise have much of a Christmas.
21. Set up a hot cocoa stand near a freeway overpass or anywhere else homeless people congregate in your town and give hot cocoa out for free. Or set it up in the parking lot of a local shopping center or mall just to be kind.
22. Visit your grandparents (or a convalescent home) and ask them to tell you stories about Christmas when they were children.
23. Put up your lights this year – it’s an altruistic gift to others who see the lights and are better able to get into the mood and spirit of the holiday (thanks to Lori, a blogging friend at Life, for instance, for this insight!)
24. Call the holiday by name. Refuse to use meaning-sapping words like winter-break and holiday tree, or to wish people “Happy Holidays!” Wish them a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah.” Only silly people will object and they need to get over their silliness anyway! Lovingly help them.
25. Give the gift of living better, kinder, more honest, more committed to your family, gentler, with more courage and compassion and love and forgiveness, more faithful and hopeful and positive and thoughtful as you finish the year and begin a new one.
And let that be the ultimate gift and the ultimate meaning you attach to this wonderful, sacred, joyful time of the year.
What do you think?
These are just a few of my thoughts, but would love to hear yours! How do you add meaning to the holidays?
Please share in the comments below. And don’t be afraid to Tweet, Share or +1 this post (or all three — it is the season to share, after all! :))
Oh, and have a very merry Christmas!
Flickr Credit: brenna d