It’s a week until Christmas. I can still feel the chill of the cold outside even with the heater on, so I tug the blanket higher around my shoulders. My hands curl around my mug of hot chocolate, warming my frigid fingers with the heat it emits. Strains of Michael Bublé’s “Cold December Night” play softly from the other room. There’s a fire cackling in the hearth, the only source of light in the room, and the tinsel glitters in the darkness.
Christmas became a nationally recognized holiday in 1870. Every year since then, several million trees are cut and find their way into American homes. Billions of dollars are spent on toys and gifts. Airports are packed with eager passengers on their way back to visit family. Only one day a year can send the entire country into such a frenzy. These frantic preparations for Christmas can easily become overwhelming, tainting an otherwise joyful holiday. In fact, many people struggle to find a way to find a way to relax during the mad holiday rush.
To make this year’s Christmas just a little more special and a little less hectic, here are twelve things (“On the twelfth day of Christmas . . .”) to do this Christmas season:
- Stop by the Writing Center. Whether it’s to get help for a mini-term paper or just to say “hi,” we’d love to see you drop by! Come see the decorations in the office and talk with the staff. And pick up a helpful handout while you’re at it!
- Read the nativity story in the book of Luke. Chapters one and two describe the account of Jesus’ birth and the amazing miracle the shepherds encountered with the angels. As you read it, be sure to take time to reflect on the real reason for Christmas.
- Go see some Christmas lights. Every year, fewer and fewer people take the time to put up Christmas lights. Or there’s that neighbor who never takes them down. One of the joys of Christmas is the collective festive spirit that can be felt anywhere. Some cities hold a Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Other places string up lights on City Hall. Find the closest location and go see the lights. That, or go find a rich neighborhood full of people who pay for their lights to be put up for them.
- Bake something and deliver it to neighbors. Try your hand at baking and decorating sugar cookies, eggnog cheesecake, or chocolate swirl pumpkin pie. Make sure to spread the Christmas spirit by gifting some to your neighbors. If you don’t know what to bake, then find a recipe online. Because let’s be honest: most of my Pinterest account is dedicated to food recipes anyway.
- Give to a charity. It’s easy to forget those in need when our families are gathered for Christmas. Try donating to the Angel Tree Christmas program or the Salvation Army. Or give of your time by serving in a soup kitchen or volunteering at a homeless shelter. It’s the season of giving, so why not? Bless someone for Christmas.
- Send a Christmas card to a soldier overseas. Spending Christmas away from family in a foreign country must be one of the most disheartening experiences. Send a Christmas card to our brave service members scattered across the globe and thank them for their sacrifice.
- Make a Christmas ornament. The things we make by hand are the ones that are the most special. Buy some inexpensive supplies from Michael’s and make some personalized ornaments. Use them to decorate your own tree or send them to relatives as Christmas gifts or stocking stuffers.
- Watch Elf. Without a doubt, we can all agree that it’s the best Christmas movie ever made. What’s funnier than watching Will Ferrell run around New York City in a Christmas elf costume? Not to mention it has some of the greatest insults ever, second only to Shakespeare: “Cotton-headed ninny muggins!”
- Go Christmas caroling. Caroling has become something of a forgotten art. Fewer and fewer people go door-to-door to sing for neighbors, and I think it’s a sad decline of a longstanding Christmas tradition. Start a group with friends or gather some people at church. Bundle up, bring your best singing voice, and hit the streets!
- Bring Christmas treats to a retirement home or a hospital. Some people can’t go home for Christmas, but you can bring Christmas to them! If possible, spend some time talking with them and leave them with some tasty cookies. Spending time with them could be the best gift they receive for Christmas.
- Go see The Nutcracker ballet at a performance hall. The Nutcracker has become a staple of Christmas along with the Radio City Rockettes and A Charlie Brown Christmas. Many people go see the ballet every year to immerse themselves in Christmas magic. Both children and adults alike can appreciate both the graceful dances and beautiful music.
- Start a new family tradition. Spend a day in the kitchen baking with the family. Open one present on Christmas Eve. Have an evening making s’mores in the fire pit. It doesn’t matter what it is; big or small, just pick something you can do every year. Maybe a hundred years from now, your family will still be observing the same tradition!
Luke 2:10-11 “And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.’”
Written by Jenna