The holidays are quickly approaching. Some, like my children, are super excited. Actually, many adults have already "decked their halls." Christmas cards are being made and wish lists have been started.
But maybe you are not excited. In fact, you may even be dreading the holidays. I do not know your story, but for whatever reason you are not looking forward to the upcoming festivities. This post is for you.
This is not an all-inclusive list but a few ideas that may help your creative juices start flowing. You can be a powerful person this holiday to make it better than you ever anticipated.
If you have family that tend to be toxic this idea is for you...make other plans. If every time you get together you and those around you get hurt and leave the holiday feeling more wounded than you came, be kind to yourself. It is ok to give yourself permission to take a trip or have a staycation. There is no hard and fast law that says that we have to spend our holidays with our families EVERY SINGLE YEAR. What would you like to do this holiday?
Maybe you are alone (or lonely) and you are trying to figure out what to do this year. This list may help.
Plan an event. Make it fun.
Host a christmas brunch where everyone brings a dish. You could have a single gift swap where you bring your favorite book and swap. If you don't like hosting in your home borrow a room at church for the party.
Take a group caroling (it doesn't matter if you can't sing).
Game night! Cook (or purchase) some easy food like pizza and enjoy playing. You could invite anybody to this. Even if folks have other plans in the morning they might love something fun to do on the night of Christmas.
Theme party. Have Christmas in Hawaii and invite everyone come with food and get dressed for this "destination" party. You could also choose a old holiday classic like Holiday Inn, White Christmas, or Miracle on 34th Street and plan the party around the movie.
Macy's day parade party. Invite everyone to don their favorite Christmas pjs or ugly Christmas sweaters. Have your own voting to choose the best of the floats and musical acts. Tally the results and announce the winners over brunch.
Gather a group to go to a midnight mass or a Christmas Eve service at a church. Go out as a group for a Christmas Eve dinner afterwards.
2. Make the holiday about someone else.
Ask your pastor who needs encouragement over the holidays. Ask how what kind of encouragement would be most helpful? It might be a meal at your home. A food basket with ingredients to make their family a meal might be a bigger blessing.
Serve a meal at the soup kitchen.
Take goodies to a nursing home, hug a few necks and say "Merry Christmas" to the residents. If you want company in your project you could contact your church (or the people who work in your office) via social media to invite others who might be interested in spreading Christmas cheer as well.
Invite an elderly neighbor over for a quiet meal. Do some investigating and find out what he or she really like to eat and pamper him/her.
Do some cooking (or creating) and go out to find people you can bless. Just a Christmas card with an encouraging word could change an entire day for a gas station attendant or waitress on Christmas Day. Think of yourself as Santa's Elf. Maybe you hand out candy canes or chocolate covered cherries. Christmas devotional books are good too. The point is to bless people who may feel overlooked on such a special day.
Every single holiday meal we have someone (or several someones) who eat with us. One of my sisters, Missy, has a neighbor we love. This neighbor is expected every holiday. When we are setting the table we always set her a place.
Remember there are always some college students who live across the country or in another country who have no where to go for the holiday. They would treasure a home cooked meal and a good conversation. You can contact your local college and ask for the faculty who works with the foreign students to locate these students.
3. Plan a personal retreat. This requires some thought and care. To truly pamper yourself you have to think ahead and plan. Since a lot of places are not open on Christmas you have to gather you special items ahead of time. Enjoy the entire process. Who knows, you may love it so much you may plan more in the future. You are worth it!
Identify what you love.
Splurge on yourself. If you love gifts buy yourself a few things you would not normally get and have the store wrap them for you! Save the gifts for you special retreat. Spread them out over the day or treat yourself to them all at once. It is your day and can be whatever you decide for it to be.
Give yourself permission to pamper you.
Do you like baths...get some new bubble bath.
If you love to read...get yourself a new book for the day.
So cooking is your thing...plan the recipes you would like to try the most and make food that you would love to eat. (If you have leftovers you might plan to bless someone with those or plan to enjoy each leftover morsel the next day.)
If you hate to cook then think ahead about food. Are their restaurants open that you love. Make an order ahead of time to make sure you can get your favorites.
Movie night. Think of a movie you have been wanting to rent and get it. Think of a movie you haven't seen in years. You may have to order it ahead of time.
Turn your favorite music on and sing at the top of your lungs.
Spend time reading the Christmas story and journaling about the parts that touch your heart.
Maybe you like to draw or color. New supplies would be a fun present to open Christmas day.
Pull up a dance video and learn some new dance moves while nobody is watching.
Wear you pjs all day if you want to.
4. Shake it up a bit. Maybe this particular year is hard. The first year after one of my sister's divorce she and her daughter started a new tradition. They began going to our parents' house on Christmas Eve and spent the night. They all did Christmas morning together with our folks. She knew that would be hard for her to stay at home that morning, so she planned ahead and created a new tradition.
Be honest with yourself and decide what would help you to help yourself.
Maybe you have always done breakfast, but you hate mornings. How about planning ahead and allowing some input to try a new midday get together.
Maybe you are have a large family and traveling is hard. Stay at home. You could invite others to come to you.
Or maybe you have never traveled and this is your year to make a change and hit the road.
5. Ask to be included. Now this is risky...you have to be careful who you ask. You are not close enough with all people to ask to jump in on their holiday festivities. However, close friends would not mind having you join their Christmas meal.
Possibly you are somebody who misses having your home full at the holidays and you might want to invite a young family with no in laws over for a meal. You might never know what a blessing that invitation might be to them as well as you.
This is the time to choose now how you can have the best holiday possible. Please do not hear me negating any pain you might be having. Pain is real and it hurts. The challenge here to be powerful in spite of the pain. Plan ahead and give yourself somethings to look forward to could be empowering and encouraging.
I would love to hear about your plans in the comments below. Your ideas may spur on others with your thoughts. I am praying that you would have the best of holidays!