How to Restore the Holiday Spirit: 10 Lessons
Bringing Joy Back
Do you suffer from holiday burnout? If you answered "yes" to this question, perhaps you need to bring the joy back into your holiday celebration. The commercialization of the holiday season has left us feeling let down. In our effort to shop, shop, shop we have forgotten that Christmas is a time to prepare ourselves spiritually for the coming of the Christ child.
Luke 2 tells us that Mary and Joseph could not find a room to stay when they arrived in Bethlehem. When I look around at our current Christmas festivities, I envision a young couple walking up to me and asking if I had a room for them. What would my answer be?
In all of our efforts to "keep up with Christmas" we have forgotten to make room for Christ. When we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we compromise ourselves spiritually; and, we know from past experiences that spiritual demise leads to emotional burnout.
Bringing the joy back into Christmas is simple. All we have to do is focus on little things that nourish our spiritual selves and restore our desire to serve. After all, Christ came into the world not to be served, but to serve. Read on to find ten ways to bring back the holiday spirit.
1. Donate Your Old Coats to Charity
Do you have old coats that you never wear? Do you have someone in your family that gives you a new coat every Christmas? If you do, consider donating your old coats to charity. Look around your neighborhood to see if there are any holiday coat drives. Many churches and business organizations collect coats for charity. If you can not find one in your area, then start your own!
2. Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen or Food Pantry
Whenever I feel burned out cooking for family members, I volunteer at a local food pantry or soup kitchen. Feeding the less fortunate, often helps me to remember how much I have been blessed with food to prepare for my family. In addition, try fixing a simple holiday dinner instead of an elaborate feast. Simple dinners take less time to prepare and produce less waste.
3. Consider Alternative Gift Giving
Do you have people on your list that seem to have everything? If so, consider giving them a goat. I do not mean that you have to give a real goat, but you can purchase a goat in their honor through Heifer International. Heifer International is a nonprofit organization that seeks to end hunger and poverty through sustainable community agricultural projects. Animal gifts range from $20 to $500 and include chickens, ducks, bees, goats, sheep, pigs, cows and water buffalo. Find out more at www.heifer.org
SEVA Foundation is another nonprofit organization that offers alternative gift giving opportunities. SEVA is the Sanskrit word for service. The organizations seeks to provide sight-restoring medical care to poor nations. SEVA also offers opportunities to help the Native American communities in North America by supporting community gardens and health care project. Find out more at www.heifer.org.
4. Purchase Greeting Cards with a Purpose
Many nonprofit organizations offer holiday greeting cards. Organizations like Amnesty International and Bread for the World sell holiday greeting cards with a percentage of the sales going to the organization. For more information visit http://www.amnestyusa.org and www.bread.org for more information.
5. Play Santa for a Needy Child
Playing Santa is one way to make Christmas morning seem a little brighter for a needy child. Just the gift of a doll or a miniature car is all that it takes to put a smile on a little one's face.
6. Use Simple Decorations
Think about the money that is spent on decorations each year. In our effort to keep up with our neighbors we have forgotten how much fun it is to make our own decorations and to spend time as a family decorating the house. Instead of buying cheap decorations, try making your own decorations. You can even make this time a family event. The Internet is full of ideas. You will find that as you simplify the decorating process, you will be reminded of the importance of family bonding.
Christmas is a great time to remember the birds and squirrels that live in our yards. If you have trees in your yard, decorated them with strings of popcorn, nuts, and cranberries. The trees will look festive and the animals will be thankful as well.
7. Take Time to Worship
Christmas is about the coming of the Christ. Prepare for His coming by purchasing an Advent Calendar Use this calendar daily to count down the days until Christmas and remember the real reason for the season. Also find time to read the Christmas story. Read it as often as possible to restore your soul.
8. Give the Gift of Forgiveness
Are you holding on to a grudge? Do you feel the need to let go of something in your life. Perhaps it is time to give the gift of forgiveness to someone that you know or even to yourself. Christmas is a time to forgive--just like Christ forgave us.
9. Express Gratitude
Traditionally, the holiday season begins with Thanksgiving and ends on New Year's Day. Gratitude should not be limited to one season. Instead, we should express gratitude on a daily basis. This year, find one thing each day and express gratitude for it. This practice will help you to realize the gifts that you have been given and to understand that you are special in the eyes of the Lord.
10. Tell a Stranger "Merry Christmas" and Mean It!
Do you know that many people suffer from extreme loneliness. It is not an illness that we can see; but, at any given time the person that is closest to us in proximity may be dying inside. This holiday season, make it a habit to say "Merry Christmas" to someone that you do not know. Make eye contact and smile. Just think what this one simple act may do for someone suffering from loneliness or depression.
The ten ideas listed above are just a few suggestions. I encourage you to implement these suggestions or any other ideas. Remember, however, that we should strive to implement these activities each day of our lives.