“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Christmas means a little bit more.”
— The Grinch, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The Christmas season is upon us. Carols are playing in the department stores, there’s snow on the ground – in some places, and online sales are hitting our inboxes every few seconds.
Some of you have been rearing to go since the beginning of October, and Christmas music is on shuffle already.
But perhaps many are feeling a little bit like the Grinch this year.
After all, we have seen desperate divides of political ideals. We have faced racism, civil unrest, and violence. We have watched over 300,000 people die due to COVID-19, and countless businesses closed their doors forever due to lost revenue. For perhaps the first time in America’s history, schools, and churches across the country shut down while heated arguments have erupted over face masks and social distancing.
It seems like everyone is experiencing grief within the grief, and we all know people who are hurting. Yep, it’s feeling like a pretty Grinch-y year.
But as the Grinch learned, Christmas does “mean a little bit more.” Christmas is a season of hope, peace, and joy. It’s a season of coming together, cherishing those we love, and celebrating the gifts that life has given us. It’s that magical season of wonder where the simplest, everyday things suddenly take on a whole new meaning.
The question is then, how do you celebrate and have the Christmas spirit during difficult times? Here are a few suggestions from Hamilton Connections.
Give Yourself Grace
Christmas will not look the same as it did last year. Give yourself grace and permission for that to be ok. Perhaps you don’t have the parties and pageants that usually fill your schedule, but maybe all you need is time with those closest to you around a warm fire, with hot chocolate, and the newest Hallmark Original.
Start a Gratitude Journal
It’s not just a Thanksgiving thing — you can show intentional gratitude all year long! Open a notebook and start writing. Start with the fact that you woke up this morning. Write down all the small things you take for granted every day –the smell of your coffee brewing, the sound of children’s laughter, the warmth from your furnace with a push of a button. The truth is this – choosing gratitude helps us move past ourselves and our sometimes-clouded-vision.
The best thing to do when feeling down is to give back to others. This year, caroling and cookie bringing may not be safe or wise, but you can still put a little extra in the Salvation Army bucket at Walmart. You can call an elderly neighbor or family member for a chat. Operation Christmas Child and the Angel Tree are both popular ways to give to children in need. Reach out to a service member, who is a long way from home, with Operation Christmas Card.
Free Yourself from the Expectations of Others
Those darn expectations creep up everywhere. Whether it’s from your mother-in-law, your neighbor, or your daughter’s teacher (you can even feel it through the Zoom), it seems like someone is always judging something. But here is the thing — you don’t have to feel that weight! Set yourself free and do what is best for you and your family.
Focus on what is important
In this year of all the unknowns and intense emotions, take some time to allow your heart to zero in on what matters the most – Family. Friends. Peace. Joy. Love. Hope.
If you must shut the news off and lock your phone in the safe, then by all means, just do it.
If you aren’t feeling it, start small. Listen to one album of, “these used to be my favorite Christmas jams.” Drive out one evening and look at the Christmas lights. Bake one small batch of Christmas cookies. Burn a holiday scented candle. Order that Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks, for goodness sakes!
Music is Therapy
Especially those Christmas jingles. And this year, the age-old question of how soon is too soon to start listening to Christmas music is irrelevant. It is 2020, and anything goes. If you’re looking for a new favorite playlist, check out this Spotify list of the top Christmas songs from 2019.
The team from Hamilton Connections, wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas. May you look back someday and realize that, despite everything, it was one of your best. And in the words of Tiny Tim, “May God bless us, everyone!”