“It’s the most wonderful time of the year …” for some. As a kid growing up in rural Alabama, Christmas time was magical. We decorated the tree, hung up the stockings, left out cookies and milk, the whole nine. It was mostly left up to my dad, my sister and myself because my mom was always busy with house work. I never understood why she was never into decorating for the holidays … until now.
Decorating isn’t as exhausting as the Christmas aftermath of cleaning up – vacuuming the tinsel, glitter and fake pine needles, cleaning the crumbs and icing from the gingerbread house display, etc. The holidays alone are stressful enough; who needs added madness during this time, right?
To get into the spirit, without causing added stress, I’ve come up with a few fun, festive tips (and advice) to put the jingle back in your bells:
1. Christmas cards. I haven’t sent out Christmas cards since college (more than a decade ago). But, here’s a grammar hint for those tricky last names that end in ‘s,’: Just add -es. For example, my last name is Hess. I would write, “Merry Christmas from the Hesses!” Or, to avoid confusion altogether, write, “Happy Holidays from the Hess family!” #NailedIt #NoApostropheNecessary
2. Start brainstorming gift ideas in September or October. My mom usually starts asking for gifts ideas in mid-October (because who celebrates that pagan holiday known as Halloween?). And, don’t send all of those ideas to the same people, or your little ones will end up with the same toys from three different families.
3. Volunteer at a toy drive, ring the bell for the Salvation Army, donate to a coat drive, etc. It really is better to give than to receive.
4. Crank up that Bing Crosby favorite and make those cookies! You may not decorate the house, the tree, or the outside, but – dang it – make those cookies with the kids because they won’t stay young forever!
5. Buy at least one gift for the pet. When I first had Puddles, the pug, I spoiled her with gifts (boots with the fur, tutus, reindeer antlers, etc.). We now have a dog, Sesi the huskimo, who chews and destroys everything in her path. She’ll be lucky to get a treat, but we will be sure to buy her something.
6. Sings carols! I love to sing, so this comes easy for me. Here are some fun facts: According to different studies over recent years, singing spurs a social connection with others; it improves the immune system, eases stress, improves breathing and heart rate; it can even be therapeutic for those suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s.
7. Attend a theater production! Whether it’s a church Christmas play or “Miracle on 34th Street” at your local theater, go to a show. It might not be “Hamilton,” but you’ll leave in a jollier mood.
8. Visiting with the family can be dreadful for some, but a fun and festive game can be the difference between dull and delightful.
9. Drive around and look at Christmas lights. You might not decorate, but others somehow find the time to do so. So, go ahead! Be that slow stalking car this holiday season. #Goals
10. Spend as much time as possible with the fam. Leave the phones on the table (unless it’s for photos), put the tablets and game systems away. Listen to the stories your grandmother has to share at the table. Reminisce with your siblings and cousins (or kin, as we Southerners like to say). Just be happy and remember the reason for the season!