It’s been a wonderful first few weeks of the holiday season for us already. We kicked it off by attending the Night of Lights event downtown, and have since enjoyed a Thanksgiving full of friends and family, attended the Fort Wayne Ballet’s The Nutcracker, hosted a birthday party for my mom, and picked out our very first real Christmas tree together. Today, it’s lightly snowing for the first time this season. I’m so grateful for these memories, and those yet to be made.
While I love venturing out amidst all of the holiday cheer happening around town, nothing beats being at home for the holidays. In fact, we’ve talked a few times in the past about taking a little vacation this time of year, just to get away and recharge before (or even during) Christmas.
But every year, when we get that tree positioned just so-so, and the garland strung on the mantle, and the gingerbread cookies in the oven, and the Christmas vinyl spinning, and when we plug in those warm, twinkling lights for the first time, I can’t help but to want nothing more than to stay put and take it all in. I can’t help but feel overwhelmingly lucky.
While the holidays certainly have a way of bringing on a special kind of stress one can only experience during those few weeks in December, they also have a way of bringing such comfort, if you let them.
I’ve been trying to take pause more often this season, and practice gratitude. For the roof over our heads and the food in our bellies. The clothes on our backs, the cars in our drives, the dog on our couch. The smell of cedar and of pine and of freshly brewed coffee. The ability to decorate, and bake sweets, and shop – all in excess, I admit. For our health and our jobs and our friends and our family.
Being grateful is important, always, for sure. Yet, the holidays have a way of making us more aware and active in giving thanks.
So, I encourage you – in the midst of your holiday panic, your end-of-year chaos, your crossing off of to-dos – to take a moment and remind yourself of what you already have. What you own, what you’ve earned, what you’ve created, what you’ve accomplished, what (and who) the universe has gifted you with, what you’re fighting for, no matter how big or small, and simply say, “thank you.”
And I challenge you to do a little something for those who may not have those same things to feel grateful for, or those whose holidays won’t be quite the same this year, having lost a loved one, or their home, or their job, and so on. Donate those sweaters you’ll never wear again, those toys collecting dust in the attic, those canned vegetables you bought too much of this spring. Take a hot meal to someone in need, offer to babysit the overworked neighbor’s children for an evening so they can do their Christmas shopping, spare a few extra dollars to charity during checkout, or write a letter to someone who can’t come home for the holidays. The comfort and joy that this season brings to many of us may not be as easy to come by for others, but it doesn’t take “holiday magic” to help provide some joy to those who need it most. It simply takes someone who cares.
What are you feeling thankful for this season? How do you calm yourself during the holidays? What are your favorite ways to spread cheer in the winter months?
Wishing all of you a joyful holiday season, wherever you may be!