Christmas time is nearly here and with the combination of Christmas parties, decorating, finding gifts and travel it can be downright stressful. On top of that, I find that this season brings an onslaught of different viruses and illnesses that can make the season feel anything but “bright”. My job as the father of my family is steer this clan through the tumultuous season and help the family to realize the true meaning of the season. I am far from perfect in doing this but I’ve come with some pointers that I’ve learned over the years.
Presents, Choose What They Want
Gift giving is a funny thing. Especially with our loved ones, we often project what we want for them and not necessarily what they want. Often times it’s a hit or miss. They either cherish what you give them and use it for years to come, or it ends up in resurfacing years later in a drawer, barely touched. The best is to straight out ask what your loved one wants. If they can’t give you a straight answer, have them name THREE things that they would love. And if they can’t do that, a very safe bet is to pick up a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant/coffee shop or hook them up with weekend in nice hotel/bed and breakfast in their local city.
Avoid shopping malls
I despise shopping malls when I’m looking for presents. They leave me drained mentally, physically and monetarily. Too many people, too much going on and it’s a cesspool of bacteria and disease. One of the great things about modern technology is internet shopping. If you can purchase what they want over the net and it saves you some money then do it. I especially find this useful for children’s toys. Even better, if what they want can be purchased from a small business or local artisan maker, then do that. If you shop locally, your money isn’t going to some gigantic corporation; it’s going towards a family paying a mortgage, ballet lessons or school tuition. Also, a lot of local artisans and manufacturers cater to online shopping.
Keep Your Body Aware and Active
There was an article published this year that pointed out that Americans and Germans gained an average of 1.3 lbs during the holiday season. Avoid this weight gain and keep yourself aware and active. I say aware, because of the temptation to snack and over-indulge on this season’s gastronomic bounty. My practice for enjoying food during the holidays is this: Eat a little of everything and a lot of nothing. Basically taste a bit of everything that is on the table but don’t overdo it. I personally dislike the feeling of being stuffed after a meal. Eat till you’re no longer hungry and don’t overdo it. Listen to your body. Drink lots of water and green tea. Stay active and EXERCISE! However, please know that working out (unless you run in excess of 25 kilometers everyday) doesn’t give you a free pass to gorge down an entire pecan pie and honey-baked ham. It does allow you to burn a few extra calories, relieve stress, keep energy levels up and feel good during the chaos that comes with the season.
Break Out the Good Stuff
I have this $200 bottle of cognac that my dad gave me a few years ago. I was saving it for a special occasion, but you know what? What if that occasion never comes? Now is the time to drink the good stuff. Drink your good wine now. Set the good china and fancy napkins.
Know What’s Going on Locally in the World
Two reasons for this one. First, when you are meeting with extended family and your seated around the table, fireplace or wherever it gives you a never ending supply of good conversation topics. Also if you are meeting a significant other’s family or friends for the first time, a good knowledge of current local and global events gives a good impression. Just be aware of your audience’s political leanings and tread lightly. Second and more important is that when you see the joys and pains of humanity across the world, the everyday comforts such as waking up to a heated house with plenty of water and food in a relatively safe neighborhood takes on a new meaning. If you are reading this and your loved ones are not fighting for their life either by sickness or from external forces and you are not hearing the sounds of gunfire or bombing then consider yourself to be immensely blessed. Make sure to be grateful.
Donate Your Time and Treasure
No matter what your life/financial condition is there is always someone in greater need than you. It may be a family member, friend, neighbor, etc. This Friday, my family and I are heading to the refugee center to bring baby supplies and warm clothing. It may not be much but it’s something. Also, I hope my children can learn that no matter how much or little you have, you can always give more. Time and treasure is nothing unless it can bless others.
Know the True Meaning of Christmas
I know this may come off as politically incorrect to a lot of my audience but I’ll go ahead and put this out there. Christmas is a Christian holiday. We could bring up the fact that the early Christian Church used Christmas to supplant a pagan feast day, which is a whole other discussion, which we can address in another forum. Santa, presents, food, family and the whole lot make Christmas special and add to the celebration. But the real meaning for the celebration is found not in a single theme or activity, but rather in a person: Jesus Christ. Christmas celebrates the point in which Jesus (who is God), out of His love for humanity, came to Earth as man in order to sacrifice Himself to save us.
His birth was a simple and humble one; born to a poor yet faithful couple. The only ones to greet him immediately upon His birth were the animals in the stable and some shepherds. Furthermore, all seemed bleak since He was being hunted by a merciless imposter-king, yet all the world was filled with hope for the coming of the Savior.
This is Christmas at its essence, all the rest is detail.
We wish you all a Merry Christmas and God bless you!
I’d love to hear some of your tips for Christmas below in the comments!