Catching The Holiday Spirit (While Avoiding Holiday Pitfalls)

Santa Carrying Shopping BagsYou know, it’s kind of hard to get excited about Christmas when money is tight.  My heart feels big and generous while my wallet keeps shrinking, and it doesn’t help that Amazon, LivingSocial, and Groupon (to name a few retailers) keep flooding my IN box with offers.

Delete, delete, delete.

I don’t even open those emails.  Okay, maybegift card hands one or two, but then I delete.  No use tempting myself to purchase gifts I can’t afford to pay for with money I have now.  Yes, that’s right, I stay within my means – I don’t want to receive bills in January to pay for stuff I couldn’t afford in December.  That’s definitely not for me!  And let’s face it, while gift-giving is not the reason for the season, so to say, it has become a big focus of the holiday.

So how will I get into the spirit of Christmas when I’m already feeling the stress of getting ready for the day?  (I didn’t even mention my anxiety about the lengthy family gift-giving and eating gatherings.  Christmas is a LONG day).  Here are some ideas I’ve been thinking about:

Remember that while Christmas is just one day, we can celebrate the spirit of Christmas throughout the year.  The two main themes I take away from the concept of Christmas are love and hope.  In each and every day there is an opportunity – many opportunities in fact – to give and receive love. And maintaining a sense of hope is what sees us through each day.

Try to see Christmas through the eyes of a child.  LVMSANTAW39It’s easier to do this when you have a young person to be around, but if that’s not the case, we can try to remember what Christmastime was like when our kids were young or when we were a children.  Being with children at holiday time is a great way to rekindle the feeling of wonder and excitement that comes from seeing the world from a fresh perspective.

Girl Decorating Christmas TreeDo just a little decorating if you don’t feel like doing a lot.   I have to admit that getting out a few trinkets and mementos, even if it’s just my snowman collection, gives me a joyful and nostalgic feeling.  Decorating, even just a little, can help to build interest and excitement for the coming holidays and might even reduce some stress.  I’ll probably put a little holiday music on while I take out my snowmen.  Which leads me to my next thought…

Christmas musicWait until closer to the holiday to listen to Christmas/holiday music.  When radio stations start playing holiday music nonstop from before Thanksgiving, the effect is that the music becomes less special and, for me, the holiday becomes less special, too.  I try to hold off listening to Christmas music (especially 24/7 on the radio) until maybe a couple of weeks before Christmas.  Like decorating, listening to special music can build anticipation, but a month or more of it can kill the excitement and actually build resentment.

Remember that gifts don’t need to cost a lot – in fact, they don’t have to cost anything or be things at all.  The greatest thing you can give another person is your time and attention.  Just dropping what you’re doing to share yourself is moreC meaningful than any material item you can possibly purchase.  Words of encouragement are a gift, too.  Even a smile can go a long way.  If you do want to give a tangible  item, an item made by your own hands can show a loved one that you spent time thinking about him/her.  Giving starts from the heart, not the wallet.  It makes no difference whether you give an expensive present or a simpler one.  The loving intention with which you give really is the gift.

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