The idea struck me this year that perhaps part of the reason the holiday season is so overwhelmingly stressful for so many people is that some of the ways Christmas used to be celebrated have long disappeared.
- Starting with the tree–most people do not live in an area where they can go out and chop one down. But, in many areas, there are tree farms or friends that may let you come onto their property to cut one down. I’ve included a wonderful resource here on how to recycle, compost, even replant your live Christmas tree after the season.
- Christmas Caroling- if there are no neighborhood caroling opportunities here are 25 popular long loved and old-fashioned Christmas songs to get you through the holidays, or try the Classical Christmas music channel on Pandora.
- Volunteering- check with your local food pantry, a local shelter, or local church to see about holiday+volunteer opportunities.
- Adopt a Family- you can find a family to adopt for Christmas through your local county human services department.
- Dress up fancy for Christmas Day- maybe once breakfast is served and the presents open, dress up fancy vs. the usual matching pj’s.
- Picnic vs. a big meal for two if it’s too much trouble to deck the halls when there’s just the two of you for Christmas dinner, try a Christmas picnic. Leftover turkey sandwiches on thick slabs of french bread sound fabulous to me.
- Wrap gifts with kraft paper or the comic pages of a newspaper (get creative)here’s 15 ideas for wrapping with kraft paper.
- Make your own tree decorations–popcorn or paper garland, cranberry garland, pine cones, and gingerbread men.
- Come up with a list of family and friends to send Christmas cards to in regular mail.
- Schedule a sledding party.
- Offer to wrap gifts for family—or have a wrapping party with music and popcorn.
Years and years ago the holidays were all about intentionally creating activities for the entire family; including grandparents, aunts, and uncles.
Here is a fabulous essay about the spirit of nostalgic Christmas.
Whenever the commercialism of modern-day Christmas starts to get the best of you–take a gentle step back to yesteryear and look at some of the activities that were once enjoyed when life was much more slower paced. During the years when I was growing up, holiday preparation started months in advance. People saved year round for Christmas gifts and many were of the custom/homemade kind. Baking was done prior to Thanksgiving for many items and everyone in the household lived with the anticipation of eating some of their favorite goodies come Christmas. Holiday parties and family get-togethers were scheduled during summer vacations when many families got together and could easily plan their holiday arrangements. I don’t remember anything at Christmas time being hectic until the late 80s and early 90s when competition and commercialism kind of pushed aside all the traditional and lifelong memory making of creating and living an intentional life.