When I started researching Western Christmas traditions I discovered pioneer celebrated with the holidays with homemade gifts and were described as being filled with “humble fare.” This made me think how elaborate the season has become. Then I realized the older I get, the more simplicity appeals to me.
I thought about holidays past, and admitted one of my favorites occurred a year when my husband was unemployed. Surprisingly, that took away of the holiday stress. I wasn’t going crazy searching for the perfect gift for family and friends because everyone knew we couldn’t afford presents. I didn’t worry about what to wear to my husband’s office party or how I’d spend an evening with people I didn’t know. Not being able to spend money on gifts and activities forced us to emphasize the important aspects of the holiday. We concentrated on what mattered—family and close friends.
We gave more than lip service to spending quality time with our children. We asked each child what his favorite Christmas movie was and watched each together as a family. We looked at Christmas lights. We baked everyone’s favorite holiday treats. We talked. We laughed.
Thinking back on those memories to write this I recalled a little book I bought years ago entitled The Little Book of Christmas Joys by H. Jackson Brown, Jr., Rosemary Brown, and Kathy Peel. I pulled out my dog-eared copy and read through it again to pick some suggestion to share some with you.
#7 * Take a basket of Christmas goodies to a notoriously grumpy neighbor.
#8 * Be nice to sales personnel. They’re often wearier than you are.
#18 * Let go of a problem you can’t solve. Enjoy the season.
#38 * Take a shut-n a scrumptious Christmas dinner.
#53 * Go caroling.
#69 * Before going to bed every night of the Christmas season, ask yourself, “Whose life did I make brighter today?”
#91 * Offer to run holiday errands for an elderly friend or relative.
#104 * Give anonymous gifts of money to someone who has been laid off.
#108 * Curl up before an open fire with someone you love.
#183 * Compliment at least three people every day in December. This is a gift that’s always appreciated.
#203 * Give a donation every time you pass a Salvation Army bell-ringer.
#231 * Add a new Christmas CD to your music collection each year.
#283 * Tour a historic home in your area that has been decorated for the holidays.
#409 * Watch the television special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
#425 * On New Year’s Day, light three candles and think about the three things that happened the past year for which you are most thankful.
May your holiday season be filled with simplicity and joy, and one last tip. #279 * Remember that the loving holiday spirit in your home depends more on the words you speak than on the gifts you give.
Now tell me your favorite holiday tradition or tip and be entered to win the set of four mugs, perfect for hot chocolate or spiced cider as you sit with loved ones in front of the fire.