Here’s one of the best-kept secrets: Holiday time is difficult for most of us. There’s an unspoken pressure to look and feel happy, even if we aren’t. Family problems take center stage as we gather with relatives to celebrate. We’re reminded of holidays past when we may have lost loved ones or had other intense personal difficulties with which to contend. Need I say more?
Along with this emotional baggage, we’re faced with an economic climate that makes spending (on gifts, decorations, festivities) all the more daunting.
But there are things that we can do with friends and family – whether gifts or celebrating – that don’t cost money and embrace and enhance the spirit of the holiday. This is a time to reconnect. Here are some ways to make this holiday season the best yet:
- Think about more creative and less costly ways of giving. One way to do this is to give someone your time and expertise. If you’re very organized, offer to clean out their basement or organize their office. If you’re artistic, you could paint or stencil a room or redecorate a room with the furnishings they already have. If you live nearby, offer to take their dog or babysit their kids while they’re away, and so on.
- Make the gifts yourself. Baked goods, hand-made stationery, a CD of favorite songs, even homemade bath products show the recipient just how much time and thought you’re willing to invest in them. Another idea is a Memory Box: Buy or create an attractive box and fill it with hand-written notes that either recall wonderful memories shared with the gift-receiver or that describe what you especially love and value about them.
- Change your usual traditions. Mix up the holiday menu: Consider cooking the main course differently this year – or swapping the turkey for a goose. Or change the centerpiece on the dining table and the decorations around the house. Any of these tweaks could lighten and liven the feel of the holiday.
- Find fun things to do within your community that you never considered before – like attending tree-lighting ceremonies, organizing neighborhood caroling, or going ice skating or bowling as a family.
- Volunteer somewhere, anywhere, as a family. There’s nothing like helping someone else to take your mind off your own problems and put them in perspective. There’s also nothing as satisfying as the feeling you get when you’ve made someone else’s holiday just a little bit brighter.
These ideas won’t solve your financial problems or make the world a safer place. What they may do, however, is bring you closer to family and deepen your holiday experience. Maybe they will even put you back in touch with what these holidays are actually about: Finding gratitude for life’s many blessings and experiencing the healing that comes from reaching out to help someone else.
Hope this proves to be the best Holiday Season you’ve ever had!