Saturday, December 24, 2016

It's Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas

Happy Holidays everyone! We hope you have a fun, safe and loving holiday with your family. Today's post is a guest post from our good friend Christine Hill. 

It's Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas
By Christine Hill

Christmas season is in full swing, and I am loving it. I hate winter with a vicious passion, and watch the shortening days with dismay, but Christmas actually makes the month of December worth it. (January is a completely different story, but we won’t talk about that right now.)

Here’s the thing about Christmas: while we’re putting up decorations and organizing parties and gifts, sometimes the holiday starts to feel a little fabricated or hollow. Going through phases of really good Christmases, and others where I felt adrift and alone, I’ve gradually noticed that there are a handful of things that are undeniably “Christmas” to me. Things that make it feel genuine and familiar. Things I just can’t do without during the month of December. Everyone’s list is different, but these are the things that make it feel like Christmas to me, instead of just looking like it.

The Smell

When I was a kid, my mom watched way too many episodes of Rescue 911. I fully blame this show for robbing us of real Christmas trees each year. I mean, how many episodes about Christmas trees going up in flames do you have to show, Rescue 911? In any case, we switched to a fake tree when I was about 8, and I missed the smell of evergreen in the house after that. To me, that smell is one of the signatures of Christmas. Just for the record, it’s pretty simple to prevent Christmas tree fires. This article here is a great guide. But, if you’re someone who prefers fake trees, that’s fine. I found my peace with fake trees when I started having to vacuum up fallen needles. Here are some natural ways that you can still make your home smell amazing:

  • Simmer some cinnamon and orange peels in water on your burner
  • Bake something delicious
  • Collect cedar and pine cones filled with resin from outside, then put them by the door so the smell wafts in with each exit and entrance
  • Get a natural wreath
  • Make an easy, natural air freshener out of cloves piercing an orange

The Coziness

Another thing about Christmas is the coziness factor. Even in southern California where I grew up, the December chill would sink into your skin, and it was my favorite thing to bundle up in response. Seriously, is there any feeling more delicious than thawing your feet by a heating vent after coming in from the cold? That’s why every December heralds a tribute to coziness in my house. That means:

  • Those amazingly soft blankets from Costco
  • Super warm double-layered socks
  • Special Christmas pajamas

I like to drape pretty blankets and cushions all around my house so that every seat is a perfect place to cuddle, and change into my pajamas absurdly early.

The Lights

Twinkle lights! Oh man, another favorite thing about the season. I love seeing stores and businesses deck out their shop windows with lights, and I love when towns decorate main street with light-wrapped trees. Going out with a car full of kids to enjoy the Christmas lights in the neighborhood is a favorite December tradition. This year I’m wrapping white twinkle lights and garlands around the columns on the front porch of my new house. In order to keep the decorating smooth and joyful, instead of stressful and hazardous, remember to follow safety guidelines. Here are some other ideas to keep your Christmas front yard decorations festive and safe.

The Giving

If you’re not feeling the Christmas spirit, it might be time to change your focus. Make it your goal to enter into the spirit of giving, of generosity, patience, and friendliness. Here are some ideas:

  • Sub for Santa
  • Organize a food drive for families in your community
  • Find a way to serve seniors in an assisted living community near you
  • Strike up a friendly conversation with whoever’s next to you in line at the store
  • Bring hot chocolate to homeless people in your city
  • Send a personalized thank-you note to someone who’s helped you in life
  • Call up an old friend

One of my very favorite Christmas moments was among total strangers, at the Post Office. It was crowded, and everyone was obviously trying to meet some Christmas deadlines. It would be so easy for tensions to run high. Instead, there was an unmistakable spirit of generosity. One mother seemed harried, trying to keep two rowdy children in line. Instead of getting annoyed at the noise, another woman distracted the children with a toy she’d found in her purse while the mother went to the front desk. When an elderly man started getting frustrated by the self-service kiosk, a college student in line behind him stepped in to help. When my credit card simply wouldn’t work and I was about to break down in tears, someone else stepped in and paid for me to send my parcel. Every potentially stressful situation during the holidays can be turned into an opportunity to show others generosity and genuine kindness.

How about you? What are the characteristic things that make it feel like Christmas to you? 

Christine is a professional writer and an avid reader who’s passionate about storytelling in all its forms. At any given moment, she’s in the middle of at least three books on anything from human psychology to ninjas. Although she’s a marathon swimmer and enjoys camping in the mountains, she believes there’s nothing better than a carton of ice cream and a Dawson’s Creek marathon.

#nextgenerationsahmblog, #guestpost, #christmas

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