It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
The picture of snow covered trees and mountains was breathtaking. There was a crispness in the air and anticipation for the most wonderful time of the year. It’s December and it’s almost Christmas, the time when we celebrate the birth of our Lord. How can we not be excited and joy-filled? And yet, this season can be so stressful and actually sorrowful for some. How can we actually recognize and make it the most wonderful time of the year.
1. Recognize the season for what it is
Unfortunately, the Christmas season has been so commercialized that we lose sight of what it really symbolizes. The birth of the Savior of the world. Taking time out to actually prepare our hearts makes a difference in how we perceive things. Take a minute every day to give thanks for all the numerous blessings that we take so much for granted. A friend who went through a very serious illness once told me, “these days when I wake up I thank God that I’m alive. I look at the sun rising in the sky and the beautiful sunset, and I thank God that he’s given me another day to enjoy his creation.” It really does change your perception when you take time to breathe and appreciate every new day that we are blessed with. Teach your teens to learn to live each day with meaning and with gratitude.
2. Dealing with the Winter Blues
It’s no secret that the Winter Season can cause significant depression and sadness in some. We are all cooped up indoors and it’s so dreary outdoors. The worst thing for me is how quickly darkness falls in the evenings, especially after all those long summer days. One can do a few things to lighten the mood. Going for a walk and breathing in the crisp air has a positive effect on your mood. Especially during this season, we should mobilize the entire family and make the effort to continue to exercise. You can do so alone or join classes like Jazzercise or Zumba, both of which I love. After a class, you feel so energized. You find yourself smiling even without realizing it. Having a warm Chocolate drink or eating small amounts of chocolate, preferably dark chocolate is also helpful. If you can afford it, taking a short family vacation to a sunnier more upbeat location can also significantly improve your mood and sometimes just the planning of the vacation does wonders for the whole family.
3. Do something nice for someone else
One of the best ways to enjoy this wonderful season is to do something nice for someone else. It does not have to cost a lot of money. The simple act of taking time to smile at a stranger or holding the door open for another person makes you happy, especially when one takes the time to say thank you. This is a serious shopping season for most people, but we don’t have to make it stressful. Take your time to be polite to others who are shopping and to the shop attendants. Be more tolerant of the long lines in the grocery stores. Another way to do something nice for others is to volunteer your time at soup kitchens, nursing homes, or to just visit a sick neighbor or to actually listen to the neighbor who always seems to stop you at the most awkward times. Teaching your teens to do something nice for others teaches them to be selfless and happy. In our church, we have the “Magi Trees” where you can pick up a card with a family’s Christmas request and make that wish come true. Yesterday, I looked at the faces of all who returned gifts for others and everyone had a beautiful smile on their faces. Doing something nice for someone else, does a lot for you too. It brightens your mood and indeed makes it a wonderful time of year for you.
4. Plan your spending
Don’t overdo it! I know it’s tempting to buy everything you see in the shops. You think you need everything you see out there. As Suze Orman says, “Learn to live in your truth.” Be honest with yourself and don’t overspend. Don’t turn this wonderful season into a spending frenzy and have a sinking heart when the bills come due in January. Plan exactly what you are going to get for family and friends, if you exchange Christmas gifts, and stay within your budget. It really is the thought that counts. Sometimes we spend so much time and money getting gifts for our children that they don’t really need, and then we get upset when they don’t seem to appreciate it. Be wise and honest with yourself and plan and stick to your budget.
5. Decide to make it a Wonderful Time
It really always does start with the decision. There will always be things to stress you out or things may not turn out exactly as we had planned when our guests come over. But it really is not so much about us. It’s about the celebration of the birth of our Lord and just as we celebrate each other’s birthdays, we should decide to be joyful and prayerful. Decide to have fun with your guests. Plan inexpensive outings to places like the Arboretum, the ice shows or simply watching a movie with your kids. Decorating your home also makes it a wonderful time. Again it doesn’t have to be expensive. There are lots of Christmas decorations that families can actually make together and there is such a sense of pride when you tell all your friends about all your accomplishments. Remember to not get so caught up in making things perfect that you forget to hug your kids and hold them close. Talk to them about what Christmas actually means to you and that it’s not all about shopping or entertaining. Make time to pray with your children and decide to make it a wonderful time for the entire family.