Celebrate the Real: December Monthly Mantra

The commercial nature of the holidays makes it easy to think about the things we want and don’t have. Black Friday and other holiday deals excel at reminding us of the things we “need” that we never even knew we needed. But is that what this time is truly about? During this special holiday season, we urge you to focus more on what’s important: the connections you have with loved ones around you. This month, we invite you to celebrate the real.

We were all taught as children to write letters to Santa Claus listing what we wanted for Christmas. While this was, and is, a fun activity and a great way for parents to surprise their kids on Christmas, it may take away from the true meaning of the holidays. Whether or not you involve Santa Claus in your holiday celebrations is up to you, but consider doing a few extra things to make the season more meaningful. Here are some ways to enhance your holiday experience:

Spend Quality Time with Loved Ones

When you look back at past holidays, what comes to mind first? Is it the gifts you received or the memories you made with family members? Do you even remember what you received a few years ago? But that time Uncle Pat made you almost pee yourself with his impersonation – yeah, that is a good one! Prioritize spending quality time with loved ones this year. Bake and frost sugar cookies together. Decorate the Christmas tree together (and lighten up when the little ones clump ornaments together or weigh down weak branches). Drive around to look at Christmas lights as a family. Play Christmas music throughout the month. These small moments are the kinds of lasting memories that will have more of an impact than a random electronic or toy.

Serve Others

Whether you are religious or not, embracing the “season of giving” can bring light into your life and the lives of those you serve. In her short story, Christmas; or, The Good Fairy, Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote, “To give up one’s very self – to think only of others – how to bring the greatest happiness to others – that is the true meaning of Christmas.” You can find the true meaning of Christmas by serving others.

Take a plate of cookies to the neighbors or some family friends. You can also volunteer at a local food bank. These organizations are always looking for extra hands to help out. You can make a real difference in your community – and in your own family’s sense of fulfillment at the same time.

A mother and her daughter laugh as they play with flour and make Christmas cookies

Simplify the Decorations

Consider limiting your holiday decorations to one box. This will be easier on storage and keep your focus on people. A front-door wreath and a Christmas tree are great focal points. Incorporate a few seasonal knick-knacks around your house, and you’re good to go.

Share Fewer, More Meaningful Gifts

Gifts should create or trigger good memories. Buy your young kids toys that will help them learn and grow. Consider gifts that will help your family have fun together, like board games, card games, or puzzles. Every family enjoys spending time together in different ways. Identify what your family likes to do and buy gifts that support that. Making gifts yourself is another meaningful approach. Handmade gifts, like paintings, quilts, and ornaments, can sometimes convey your love for the people you give them to in ways words cannot.

Slow Down and Give Thanks

The holidays are synonymous with the hustle and bustle of shopping and attending Christmas parties. Take a minute to slow down and be grateful. Create a gratitude list. As mentioned previously, it can be easy to focus on what we don’t have. Instead, take note of all the things you DO have in your life. Family, friends, food, and housing are all things that can make the list. Get creative with yours! Take the time to write a thank you note to someone you appreciate. Be genuine as you express why you’re grateful for this person. Delivering it to them is sure to bring a smile to their face.

Celebrate the Real

However you choose to celebrate the holidays, remember that the people around you are more important and real than the things you do or do not have. Celebrate the real by creating lasting memories with your loved ones. Celebrate the real by showing gratitude for what you already have.