By Patricia Johnson
The holidays can leave us feeling a little bit strapped. Strapped for time, money and energy. We can easily get caught up in the whirlwind of parties and preparations. But if those activities start to eat away at your reserves, perhaps a holiday overhaul is in order. Simplify. De-commercialize. Breathe. Enjoy.
New & Improved Holiday To-Do List:
Take Christmas Pictures Take a Moment
Take a moment to remember what Christmas and the holiday season is all about: beautiful, selfless, unconditional love of our Savior. Take a moment to try to fully capture and appreciate what that means. Find ways to share that love with family, friends and strangers. Hold that good morning hug just an extra moment, give a friend some unsolicited encouragement and praise, and smile at the strangers you pass today. Look through pictures of past Christmases, reminisce and make plans for the future. But enjoy this moment.
Buy Presents Be Present
Put down the phones, turn off the television and be present. Everyone knows that our families need our time and attention far more than they need another gadget or another activity. Yet, how many actually employ that knowledge? Use the extra time off work to listen, engage and reconnect. Be present. Make new traditions, try new recipes, and sing carols around the lit tree.
Put Up Decorations Enjoy Decorations
Take the time to enjoy the decorations and adornments of the season; don’t just stress about getting yours out Thanksgiving weekend and away New Year’s Day. Intentionally enjoy this part of the seasonal celebration. Include your family, even the little ones. There are a few light shows that you can pay for in the area or you can make a thermos of hot chocolate for your kids and go for a drive listening to Christmas music and looking at the Christmas lights. Take your time and enjoy the wonder in your kids’ eyes.
Find the Perfect Gift Be the Perfect Gift
There are so many ways to bless others this holiday season. Kids learn by example and many service opportunities require just some time and a little effort. Make volunteering a new holiday tradition. It helps those in need today but will have a long-term impact on your kids. Manna Café, Loaves and Fishes, the Humane Society are local organizations that could use a gift, and there are many others. Let your kids decide on what the family service project should be each year; the more you include them in the process, the more vested they will be and the more they will get out of the experience.
Buy Stocking Stuffers Put Your Stockings On
Put your pajamas on while you are at it! Snuggle in for an evening and watch an old Christmas movie. Revisit or introduce some classics to your family or find a silly one that everyone will enjoy. Treat everyone to different flavors of homemade popcorn or gourmet hot chocolates. Make it special and camp out for the night in the family room when the movie is over. Try “Home Alone,” “Elf,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” or “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” Take something ordinary like a family movie night and make it extraordinary with special holiday twists. Make it an annual tradition to keep it familiar and cozy, but don’t be afraid to put a new spin on it every once in a while to keep it exciting.