Well, the Christmas presents are now opened. The music books with Christmas Carols are now back up on the shelves and the Christmas music on the radio has abruptly ceased. It is painfully obvious that Christmas is over! I have never understood how these radio stations that go “all Christmas music” LONG before Thanksgiving, can just stop it immediately at midnight on December 26th. Ok, I get it, Christmas is over, but you could casually fade back into regular music. I mean it is Wednesday and I know some people who aren’t even going to get together with their family until this weekend to celebrate the holiday. Besides, there are plenty of “winter” songs that could easily still play in rotation, much like those oldies stations sprinkle in “summer” themed songs during the summer. I am sorry – I digress.
The fact that Christmas is over, however, is important for me to make a point with this blog. Much like it was important for readers to know that “Marley was dead” to completely grasp the story of a Christmas Carol by Dickens, we must understand that Christmas is over. Speaking of Dickens, a quote from his holiday classic is the exact thing that has me writing this blog.
“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year” – Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
Keeping Christmas All Year
It is easier to be nicer to people in December. We are naturally friendlier, we put a little more into each handshake, we smile a bit bigger, and we are more charitable. Think of the things that you “over look”, “forgive” or choose not to say anything about because “it’s Christmas”. Because of the season, it’s easier to do. I heard someone call Christmas Spirit a “limited time offer” once. That, in itself is humorous, but what if we didn’t put a limit on this? What if we made a choice to be nicer to people, forgive more, and to spread Christmas Spirit throughout the other 11 months of the year? Just HOW do we even go about doing that?
Imagine if we all made a conscious choice to live every day with the Christmas spirit? Elvis Presley said in one of my favorite (and underplayed) Christmas songs: “Oh why can’t every day be Christmas? Why can’t that feeling go on endlessly? For if every day could be just like Christmas, what a wonderful world it would be.” Powerful lyrics! So powerful, that I would like to present a challenge.
I wish I could say that I thought of this on my own, but I didn’t. I am sure that there have been others who have posed this same challenge throughout the years. However, perhaps if I keep presenting it, maybe, collectively, we CAN make a difference and keep the spirit of Christmas alive well into 2019 and beyond.
Realistically, I understand that it would be odd to be singing Christmas Carols at the swimming pool in July or dressing up as an elf with an ugly sweater for work. So Just what are some ways we can “keep Christmas” in the months ahead? Here are some ways:
Know What is Important and Make Time for That!
During the Christmas season, we make our families a priority. We spend time making memories and celebrating with them. After Christmas, the “world” takes over and tries to monopolize your time. Your job, your bills, and other things can often interfere and beg for your attention. Remember what is truly important to you. Make family a priority. When you are able to bring yourself back to what matters most, you can make the most of every day and every situation.
Be Kind To Everyone.
I’ll admit, this isn’t always an easy thing to do. At Christmas, everyone seems to be a bit nicer to each other, so let’s start here. Treat everyone with a bit of kindness – especially those who aren’t necessarily nice to you. This, in itself, is a great way to keep that Christmas Spirit alive. Think about how you would treat that person if it were Christmas.
Be Thankful. Focus On What You Have.
During the holidays, we often reflect on the things that we are thankful for – our family, our friends, and the things that make us happy. When we bask in the appreciation of what we have, and reflect on those things with happiness – we continue that Christmas feeling well past Christmas Day! The key to making this happen is to focus more on what you have instead of what you want. Instead of saying, “I want …” and “I need….” think “I’m very grateful I have …”
Find the Good. Surround Yourself With It.
At Christmas, we see many things that bring about a childlike wonder. We take note of the things like Christmas lights, special ornaments, an ongoing tradition, and the curiosity of what’s in a beautifully wrapped present. Look on life in wonder and amazement. Find those things that bring about that wonder and embrace the good things you see in everyday life. Marveling in those things is another way to keep the Christmas spirit alive.
Giving to Charity
During the holidays, we tend to give a bit more. We drop extra change in the red buckets and exchange pleasantries with the bell ringers; we adopt families at church; we donate to organizations who provide Christmas presents for kids without families and are a bit more open to helping. Doing something for a charity throughout the year is an amazing way to keep that spirit of Christmas alive AND you’ll feel good about doing it. The need doesn’t go away after Christmas. The shelters still have people in need. There are always people who have been hit with tragedy that can use your help. Even donating to a local food bank can be a huge help. It is better to give than to receive, and should you ever need to be on the receiving end, you will be thankful for those who gave.
Get Active in Your Community
During the holidays, many will take part in the Christmas Tree lighting or Christmas Sing Alongs. Throughout the year, the community is always looking for volunteers to help with various events. Get involved with things that make a positive impact on your city. Help with community clean up projects, support local businesses, or go to a city council meeting. Be proud of the city you live in and be a good neighbor to others!
Listen to Some Tunes
Who says it has to be December to listen to Christmas songs?! I have Christmas songs on my iPod and when I am listening at work, I very rarely skip them. Those songs that make you happy during the holiday season can bring a smile to your face anytime of the year. Winter Wonderland is a good song to cool you off in the summer! For some, the religious Christmas songs serve as a reminder that we need God/Jesus in our lives every day. There is no law as to when one can listen to Christmas songs…so crank them up!
Christmas Shop All Year
No need to wait for Black Friday deals. Here’s a great idea that you may actually relieve some stress next Christmas – shop now! Whenever you see a great deal on a toy or something that would be a great Christmas gift, buy it now and store it away until December. How amazing would it be to have all that shopping done for Christmas BEFORE all the madness?! It will also help you with your budget! So many people go into debt at Christmas because they use the last few paychecks of the year to do all of their shopping. Take that extra $20 each paycheck throughout the year and buy a gift, you’ll thank me in December when everyone but you is stressing at the store.
Send a Card – For No Reason!
One of the things I look forward to each Christmas is getting the mail. I love to see who has sent us a Christmas Card. I love the “Year In Review” notes that update me on the various news from friends and family. In this day and age where we spend so much time on social media and texting – a handwritten note or card in the mail can spread so much joy! Grab some Forever Stamps and make it a point to write a note to someone.
Light a Christmas Candle
Who doesn’t love the smell of a Christmas tree? Peppermint? Pumpkin Pie? Sugar Cookies? You can find candles that smell like these things and more. My wife loves the smell of cinnamon sticks, so we often light candles throughout the year. This is an easy way to get into the spirit. Maybe you can light a candle while you write out the card I just mentioned?
Grab a Beverage
My sons bought me my favorite coffee (mentioned in a previous blog) for Christmas. I can brew a pot of Cinnamon Holiday Blend from Coffee Beanery any time of the year and it makes it feel like Christmas. Why not have some hot chocolate during the summer? Who says you can only drink egg nog during the Christmas season? There are plenty of recipes on the internet – make your own!
Christmas Feast – In July
We have a turkey in our freezer right now. When you are hearing about all the Christmas in July sales all over town, why not celebrate it with a Christmas Dinner? I am all about a good meal. This is another way to keep the spirit alive – why not invite the whole family over for a mid-summer feast? Have Christmas cookies for dessert! What a great way to enjoy good food and good company!
I Triple Dog Dare You!
So there is a hefty challenge! I challenge you (and myself) to go forward over the next 11 months and prolong the Christmas season! Spread that cheer in the months to come! Let’s be like Scrooge and keep Christmas the whole year! Let’s help make that Elvis lyric come true – “for if every day could be just like Christmas, what a wonderful world this would be!”
“So remember while December
Brings the only Christmas Day
In the year let there be Christmas
In the things we do and say
Wouldn’t life be worth the living
Wouldn’t dreams be coming true
If we kept the Christmas spirit
All the whole year through.” ~Author unknown, c.1962