Make More Meaning of the Season of Sell-abration

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More and more I talk to people who are exhausted just at the thought of looking ahead to the Christmas and Holiday Season. While it should be a season of peace and joy, for most it is a time chaos and stress. Before Halloween is even taken down in retail establishments, Christmas has already started to be put up. This year, I noticed Costco had introduced some merchandise for the Season as early as September! The constant emphasis on the commercialization of Christmas continues to be a pain-point with a lot of us. Can we swim against this tide? How can we re-centre ourselves and our values on what is important to us?

I have started keeping a list of small gestures and acts of kindness that I can do quite easily on a regular basis to focus more on the meaning of Christmas. I keep this list in a place that is easily accessible. It might be on my desk, in my daytimer, on my phone or on my fridge door. Wherever it sits, it is highly visible and comes into my purview at least once a day. That way it becomes a constant reminder. Eventually it becomes a habit.

Here are a few items from my list:

  1. Clean out your closet. Purge all those unworn and unwanted items and donate to a shelter or your favourite Thrift Store. As you transition your wardrobe from Fall to Winter, look hard at what you are holding on to. By nature we humans are hoarders, and we typically have way more than we need or can use. I am guilty of that. Know that as the weather turns, and as the general population is distracted by the holiday season, shelters struggle for donations. And homeless people struggle for warm clothing. My favourite place to donate is MINE101, a social enterprise, which supports a woman’s shelter.
  2. Visit the elderly. Whether it is a family member that you don’t see often enough or a neighbour, friend or colleague, the holidays can be a depressing time for folks who cannot get out. While the rest of the world is frantic with shopping, baking, entertaining and preparing, those who cannot get out are often neglected. Pay them a visit, have coffee with them read the paper together, or engage in meaningful conversation. They will appreciate it!
  3. Clear the snow. In my part of the world, Mother Nature usually gifts us with some snow in November and continues gifting through to March. How blessed I have felt coming home from a long day at the office to find my driveway cleared. God bless those thoughtful, generous people who look after my driveway and sidewalk when I am not home. Are you one of those neighbours?
  4. Buy a community coffee. More and more coffee shops are allowing you to pay for an extra coffee that can then be consumed by someone more needy. What a great way to pay it forward, and treat a stranger to your favourite brew. And if that’s not possible at your local coffee shop, randomly buy a coffee for the person in line behind you. Or do as a good friend of mine does . . . keep a few $5 Tim Hortons gift cards in your wallet to hand out to someone in need.
  5. Tip your waitstaff generously. Servers work especially hard during the holidays to ensure that Christmas lunches, dinners and other events are fun and festive. They are often on their feet for more than 12 hours at a time, and dealing with all kinds of personalities! Rather than losing your patience for slow service, practice some empathy, and appreciate the effort that is being made

And finally, adopt an Attitude of Gratitude, and be thankful for what you have. Whatever your faith tradition, enjoy the holiday season!