How do you get someone in the Christmas spirit?
Christmas is supposed to be a time of laughter and cheer, peace and goodwill toward men. But sometimes it feels more like a season of stress and frustration, anger and impatience toward all. So what can you do to fill your cup with Christmas cheer?
Remember Childhood Christmas Cheer
For myself, I find that the music of Christmas is often enough to bring about the seasonal laughter and cheer. Singing along with those old favorites reminds me of all the good times from my childhood.
I remember dressing up for Christmas Eve at Grandma's house. Gathered around the table we would talk and laugh together. Opening one present because my mother could never wait for Christmas. Getting up early on Christmas morning to open my stocking with my brothers. Putting it all back in the stocking so my parents could watch us open them. Reading the Christmas story. Exchanging present. My parents' love and thanks despite a child's idea of the perfect gift. Gathering together at Grandma's house with the cousins.
Christmas is magical for a child and the music brings back those memories for me. So dust off those old albums and sing along.
Deck the Halls
If the music isn't enough to bring a smile to your face, try bringing out the Christmas decorations. A little Christmas cheer on the outside can often bring Christmas cheer to the inside. Even if you can't afford a tree put up some decorations. If money is a concern ask family and friends if they've got extra decorations they are not using.
Early in my marriage, when my husband and I were both in school, we couldn't afford to buy a Christmas tree. We didn't have money for a lot of expensive decorations. However, my mother has been collecting Christmas decorations her entire married life. So she was able to pass some of those decorations on to me. I had a nativity scene, Santa's workshop and miscellaneous candles and snow globes. When I was done decorating the place looked quite festive despite the lack of a tree. Moreover, both my husband and I felt better about the season and not so discouraged about money.
Give the Gift of Cheer
If the music and the decorations aren't putting you in the Christmas spirit then try giving gifts. The gifts don't have to be expensive. As I said previously, my husband and I were going to college in the early part of our marriage and we didn't have a lot of money. So one year I made dozens of cookies. Then I went to the cookie exchange. (My mother and I attend one nearly every year.) I took all the cookies and arranged them in decorative gift boxes and gave them as gifts. Another year I made gift baskets with fresh baked goods and teas.
If you are short on money gift baskets are a good gift because they can be made of almost anything. Whatever your particular talent, whether baking or crafting, arrange it festively in a basket or box and it makes a heartfelt gift. Or, if you don't feel you have a talent that will lend itself to gift baskets, consider giving coupons for a night of free babysitting, pet-sitting or car detailing. There are all kinds of services you can provide for family and friends. Just let your imagination soar.
Goodwill Towards Men
If buying gifts for your family and friends still has not brought you Christmas cheer, then aim for goodwill toward men. The surest way to put out the Grinch and find holiday cheer is to do something for the needy. There are food and toy drives all around if you take the time to look. However, it is often easier to feel the spirit of Christmas if you take a more personal interest.
When I was a teenager I participated in the Angel Tree program at our church. I would get a card that told me the age range I was to buy for and the budget I was to stay within. Every year I would try to figure out how to get the most I could for the amount budgeted. At the same time I would think about the fact that these kids might not have all the toys and accessories that I had, so their toy needed to stand alone. It would remind me that the season of Christmas is about giving--not getting. (If your church does not currently participate in the Angel Tree program, visit their website for details on becoming involved.)
Another option for giving to the needy is the Be An Elf program offered through the post office. You receive an actual letter to Santa from a needy child. Nothing could be more personal than reading the hopes and dreams a child pours out to Santa. Playing a Christmas Elf for that child will certainly bring on a Christmas glow. (Not all postal branches participate, so check there website to see if there is a participating branch near you.)
Or you could choose to bless a whole community through World Vision's gift giving. For only $12 you can provide a family with two ducks. This will not only provide them with eggs to eat, but also eggs to sell to provide tuition money for the children. Visit the World Vision website for more details.
Whatever your charity of choice, whether you give of time or money, you will find that giving will help you express goodwill toward men. I know of no better way to experience the joy of the Christmas season.