“Happiness and cheer, fun for all, that children call, their favorite time of year…”
Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!
Christmas is definitely in the air. It is my favorite time of year. Yes, I love summer, but the excitement of Christmas is unparalleled. The smell of fresh Christmas trees, the beautiful decorations and lights, 25 days of Christmas sweaters (I began sporting my Christmas sweaters on December 1st and will continue until Christmas – see below), the holiday music, the wonderment on the faces of children seeing Santa, the frenzy of shoppers searching for that perfect gift. The panic of parents getting to the gym first thing and remembering “Oh Heck! Elfie needs to be moved before the kids wake up!” (Elf on the Shelf)
“We miss something if we don’t see Christmas through a child’s eyes.” Rosemary M. Wixom
Did you hear there is a new Elf on the market? No joking, it is the Kindness Elf. Unlike Elf on the Shelf, this Elf makes an appearance each morning with a kindness mission for kids and families. For example: today open the door for someone, make cookies for an elderly neighbor, sing Christmas carols at a nursing home. What better way to raise children in kindness? Also, Kindness Elf suggests fun things for families to do together such as piling in the car in your jammies to go look at Christmas Lights, dinner at a fun restaurant (no, not that fast food one again!), hot chocolate and ice skating. All to spotlight kindness and magic at Christmas time.
“Just remember, the true spirit of Christmas lies in your heart.” Santa Clause, Polar Express
I was at the mall this week and stopped to watch the children with Santa. There was a LONG line. I remembered standing in those lines. The Santa was a decent one, but geez, I have seen some Santas that I thought might have been pulled right off the street! Once I changed my mind about having my kids visit Santa at the mall after taking one look at him! Have you seen any like that? However, I loved taking my kids to see Santa when they were little, hoping to get that perfect picture for the grandparents. Most of the time, this was done at our church’s preschool where the REAL SANTA made an appearance. (Just look at Santa in the pictures below.) Depending on their age, the kids were either terrified of Santa or not interested in him at all, or they loved him and hammed it up for a great picture (and a candy cane).
My adorable great-nephew went to see Santa last weekend and was not impressed. My friend’s beautiful and spunky daughter also visited Santa and again, she was not buying it. I remember my son reacting the same way his first time. Now mind you, both of these precious children are only a year old and have not even made their Christmas lists yet! Just give them time. Soon they’ll run to see Santa with their lists and will be on their best behavior all of December (especially if Elf on the Shelf is watching!).
Don’t you wish you had created Elf on the Shelf?!? $$$ This was not around when my kids were young, but everyone I know with young children has one (or more!). Maybe adults need the Elf. Both the Kindness Elf and the “behavior” Elf. Actually, Elf is at my office. Yes, “Jingles the Elf” is hidden daily and the team member who finds him wins a prize for the day (we are all searching feverishly for it now!). Mind you, prizes are not behavior based (thank heavens!), and they sure are fun! Honestly, I don’t think most adults need the Elf at Christmas. This is the one time of year when people seem to be the most generous – volunteering and donating to more causes, attending church (you know the C&E attendees, Christmas and Easter, but hey, they are there!), going out of their way to brighten the holidays for those less fortunate. And people seem to generally be merry. Yet it is also a chaotic and stressful time with so many parties, baking, searching for presents, wrapping those presents, worrying about paying for those presents come January, and trying to do too much each day. With my new SOLO status and lifestyle, my life has become much less stressful during the holidays. There are less presents to search for, less family functions to attend. I discovered that stress is mostly self-created and I decided I would change direction and make the holidays more meaningful and joyful and less stressful. How? Less decorating for one. Two years ago I had 36 bins of Christmas decorations that I put out, this year only 8 bins, 2 which are my famous Christmas sweaters! I purchase fewer presents, instead concentrating on 3 gifts for each of my children and gifts for my family that are fun and more meaningful. And I am finding more time to enjoy the season by attending special events – tomorrow night I am going to a holiday candlelight tour of James Madison’s Montpelier, this weekend is my neighborhood’s Luminary and holiday party night. I have my kids, my family, and friends, and am truly blessed.
“The holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on our blessings and seek out ways to make life better for those around us.” Terri Marshall
Christmas is not easy nor happy for everyone. It is a difficult time for those who have suffered losses. Grief doesn’t recognize holidays. And there is no time limit on grief. I know several families who will be spending this Christmas as the first without their loved ones. How can we help them through this holiday season? Remember their loved ones, share memories of them, cry with them, laugh with them, listen to them. Grief is real.
“Christmas… A season of blessing from heaven above, a season of sharing with all those we love, a season of caring, warmth and good cheer, a season of hope for the coming new year.”
It is also time to begin thinking about 2018. It will be here in 26 days y’all! Did you experience disappointment in 2017? Joy? Are you happy to say goodbye to 2017 and hello to 2018? What will you change in your life in 2018? What would make 2018 the happiest year for you so far? What challenges will you face in 2018? Start thinking about 2018… I am!
Take time to enjoy the Christmas season each and every day. Choose events and functions that are truly meaningful to you. Look for blessings daily. And share this season with those you love, because as we all know, tomorrow is not promised to any of us.