Friday, December 21, 2012

Finding the Christmas Spirit

I love Christmas.  Normally, I gather ideas for gifts, crafts, cookie recipes all year long.  I try to get my shopping done before Thanksgiving so that the girls and I can spend the month of December baking and crafting.  We usually get tickets to see The Nutcracker or Radio City Christmas Spectacular or A Christmas Carol.  Jason combs cookbooks and websites for interesting recipes for his big annual Christmas Day dinner.
This is a house in our neighborhood.  They have been decorating it like this for 30 years.  People come from all over to see it.  They don't charge anything.  This weekend they are hosting an open house with Santa and Mrs. Claus, hot chocolate and candy canes and they are asking that if anyone wants to donate, they bring food for the local food bank.

But, this year is different.

I am struggling to find the Christmas spirit.

I love that our neighbor does this.  That he gets such joy from it.  That he opens his home to strangers to bring them joy.  That reminds me of the spirit of Christmas.

Here are some things that I have been doing and they have been putting me in the Christmas spirit...

* Watch a Christmas movie.  The classics, It's a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street are always great for reminding us about what the season really means: pulling together, giving more than we expect to receive and in so doing, we get so much more back; love; kindness.  Of course, A Charlie Brown Christmas Special,  with that little pathetic tree reminds us that everyone deserves love and kindness; Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer reminds us that we all have gifts.  If you can find them, The Small One and/or Nester, the Long-Eared Donkey are my two favorites, about the donkey that brought Mary to Bethlehem.  We watched Christmas Angel with Della Reese a few nights ago, it's a new movie, but it was great for putting me in the Christmas spirit!

* Bake some cookies or make fudge.  I have been pinning recipes all year, you can find them here.  Or maybe you can make a nice dessert to bring to a party you are attending.  Part of the joy for me is giving, I love anticipating everyone enjoying the plates of cookies and fudge we bring with us where ever we go or are invited this time of year.

* Get your craft on.  Crafting around the holidays is one of my very favorite things to do.  I love to give and receive homemade gifts.  I started a Pinterest board for Christmas crafts and Homemade Gift ideas a while ago.
All of these dolls move.  It's like watching an old-fashioned window in NYC, before they started making it over-the-top, when they kept it to simple and classic scenes of Christmas cheer.

* Plan a New Year's Eve party.  We started doing this a few years ago, mostly with very local friends since most people we know don't like to be out and about on New Year's Eve.  I almost bagged the party this year, but Jason convinced me to carry on and we have actually invited even more friends this year -- and they said yes!!  Looking forward to spending some time with friends, planning what food we will serve, drinks we will make, entertainment for the kids - is putting me in a happy place.

* Go shopping.  Yes, I am usually done before December.  But there always has to be at least one special gift that I can't wait to give--this year, I needed to go back out to get it, because I had not found it yet.  I know Christmas is not about gifts, but finding special things for those you love ignites a spark in our soul and it reminds us of the gift given to us all those years ago...

* Go to church.  Our church has Blue Christmas fellowship, Lessons & Carols and other services throughout this weekend and next week.  My favorite tradition at our church is at the end of Christmas Eve worship when the lights are turned down and we all light candles and sing "Silent Night" I always cry.  It just really brings that message home--Jesus is the reason for the season!

* Pray.  Get down on your knees and spend time with God.  Tell him what is on your heart ask him to lead and guide you through this time.
These elves are hard at work in our neighbors' attic.

* Make something for the homeless.  If you live near a city or an area where you have some homeless people, make little gift bags.  It can be something as simple as brown lunch sacks with an apple and a juice box inside.

* Play some Christmas music.  I normally keep the house quiet, as a mom I relish any minute of silence I can get; but Jason is the type of person who has music on from the time he wakes up til he goes to sleep...he's been playing lots of Christmas music lately from our own collection and Pandora and it really does put me more in the Christmas spirit.

* Change it up.  If you suffered a loss this year, maybe the idea of doing the same things you have always done to celebrate Christmas is more than you can bear.  Our family has decided not to host the big family dinner on Christmas Day and instead we have some other plans.

Mrs. Claus and Santa are preparing the reindeer for the long flight ahead.
I love the magic of Christmas.

**If you see a revolving door and there is no one waiting to use it, channel your inner Elf and run around and around and around.  The other day, we had to stop at Jason's surgeon's office to pick up some paperwork and there was a revolving door.  We had just watched Elf the night before and the girls and I saw it as our opportunity to run around and around and around in the revolving door.  Jason stood by, looking annoyed and embarrassed, until the girls and I flung ourselves into the lobby of the surgeon's office and I apologized to the security guard, who chuckled and said, "Elf is classic!  Merry Christmas!"  That made my day!