“Too many of us define happiness as feeling good, not doing good, which is absolutely backward.” Laura Schlessinger, Ph.D.
What is it you remember about your own holidays growing up? What was it that made you happy? Take a minute right now and close your eyes and think about it. How many specific gifts do you remember? I remember a blue bicycle with big fat tires. I remember a doll with about 5 outfits of clothes that my mom made (especially a coat with a fur collar). But mainly I remember sensations. The smell of orange/glove balls that smell delicious for months after Christmas is over (and children and grandchildren still love to make.) I remember adopting and shopping for a family that needed a hand each year, and packing Christmas dinner baskets at church. I remember my mom’s divine divinity and plates of cookies and candies that we made passed around to friends and neighbors the week before Christmas. What do you remember? What really brings you joy during the holidays?
I know things are going to be different. You will grieve the losses of this last year, but please don’t get caught up in thinking the gifts you buy are going to make the difference in how “successful” the celebrations are. We all want our holidays to feel good — especially this year. But feeling good has more to do with doing good than with buying more stuff. Maybe it means setting a ridiculously low limit on gifts. One year our family made the “you-can’t-spend-more-than-$10-on-each-person rule.” Another year we had to give something homemade. (That was definitely one of my favorite Christmases! People are way more creative than you first think!)
This is the perfect year to change the tone of YOUR holidays. Your wasband may still be going overboard to impress everyone with how wonderful he is by buying big, expensive stuff. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to keep up with that. Make your holidays mean more. Do more good things. Share more time. Go to a Christmas movie or watch one at home. Cut down on your “must do” list. Make an orange/clove ball yourself. Enjoy that wonderful aroma. (Just get a small thin-skinned orange (or lemon or lime) and cover it with whole cloves … you might have to poke holes with a toothpick to make it easier) Have a friend or child or grandchild help. Have some hot tea or hot chocolate.
Right now at the beginning of this usually crazy time, take a deep breath and make a commitment, even now, to find the real joy in these holidays. Quiet yourself and rediscover the true meaning of these celebrations. It might be the best holiday season you’ve had in a long time. Really.
“But the people of God will sing a song of solemn joy, like songs in the night when holy feasts are held; his people will have gladness of heart …” Isaiah 30:29a (The Living Bible)