So many of us want Christmas to feel like Christmas again. We are tired of the commercialization of every aspect of the holiday. It seems like the Black Friday kick off to Christmas does everything it can to detract us from feeling and doing anything that creates the true spirit of Christmas. I’ve found myself lured to the many “How To” articles related to reducing holiday stress, simplifying the Christmas season, and making the most out of your Christmas. In an effort to bring more meaning to Christmas for our family I’ve compiled my favorite Christmas reminders.
1. Don’t do more – do less.
It’s almost ironic that I start this list with a suggestion to do less. I know, the idea goes against every well-intended plan for a festive and memorable season, but doing less leaves more time for the real meaning of Christmas. My family and I have a tradition of retreating to the mountains for the week after Christmas. I love this tradition and feel very protective of that time; however, a few years ago, we logistically couldn’t make the week work and so we opted for the week before Christmas. This required a shift in our planning, and we had to simplify and do less. A magical thing happened as we unloaded some of the holiday burdens to save a family tradition: we found Christmas in the quiet time we spent together. By doing less we enjoyed the time more.
If you need more ideas for this one check out this post by my friend Jennifer Wise. She has some great ideas to help simplify your Christmas.
2. Give memories, not things.
Several years ago, we opted for a family vacation rather than gifts under the tree. Those Christmases are still the ones most fondly remembered for our family. Spending our resources to create memories will last longer than a toy that can break, clothes that will go out of fashion, or electronics that will soon be outdated. It doesn’t have to be a family vacation, but choose gifts that send a message about what you value the most. Years from now your family will not remember what you got them for Christmas in 2016, but they will remember how they felt when you were all together.
3. Practice random acts of kindness.
I’ve said it before, but kindness matters. It is especially important to show kindness during this time of the year when so many have burdens that are heavier than our own. There is a great calendar of ideas on Mormon.org that can help you share kindness by doing things for others the way the Savior would. I also found this great article with 22 tiny acts of kindness that can make a difference for someone else.
4. Simplify your gift-giving.
There is nothing as fun-sucking as being overwhelmed at Christmas. The crowds, lines, and traffic are enough to send me to live with the Grinch. Try sticking with the 3 M’s – Minimize, Meaning, and Memories. Here is a compiled a list of gifts that go beyond the typical and offer more meaning.
5. “‘Tis Better to Donate Than Accumulate.”
This article written by Josh Becker reminded me of the joy, purpose, and meaning behind giving back to those who are in need. The accumulation we, as a society, will amass over the next month could be considered alarming. Every year we buy new and more on a quest to conquer some kind of insatiable need. Make this Christmas more meaningful by finding a charity to donate to, taking your gently used items to a local thrift store, or finding a worthy cause to otherwise support. The words of educator and author Booker T. Washington ring true: “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”
6. Send Santa a list of what you have, not what you want.
There is hope, joy, and magic that comes with the dream of Santa and his big red bag, but the commercialism of the legend has created a season of “ME” – fixated with what items to put on our gift list rather than a balance of thinking of others. I once read about replacing the Santa wish list with a gratitude list. Our lives are so full of abundance that often gets taken for granted. Switching our mindset to be about what we have rather than what we want is a great way to bring the true spirit of Christmas into our homes.
7. Banning the Bedroom.
This one hit close to home for me. Our bedroom has become a refuge and sanctuary for me. I go there to escape, which means I’m also escaping my family. This great article reminded me to make “family” more meaningful we need to spend our spare time together. Watch a Christmas movie, work on a holiday puzzle, play a favorite game, or find a way to serve. When we make it our default to hang out together, even if it means we are all doing our own thing, it sends the message that our family is our top priority.
How do you make Christmas more meaningful in your home?