May Your Days Be Merry and Bright
Picture this: a crisp winter morning, complete with freshly fallen snow and fields of evergreen trees lining the distance.
Atop the snow sits a brick house, with warm light flooding from the windows and white smoke billowing out of the chimney. In the house sits a family — two parents, two children, and a pair of dogs — gathered around a Christmas tree. They wear matching fleece pajamas, fuzzy socks, and smiles to match. They come together, count their blessings, and say a special prayer.
Then, one by one, they tear into their presents, which are stacked high around the Christmas tree. When the last gift has been unwrapped, they snap a family photo and wish each other a very Merry Christmas. And indeed, it seems, they’ve had a picture-perfect holiday.
For many of us, this image is a nice sentiment, but it’s a far stretch from reality. Between busy schedules, strained relationships, and tight finances, our Christmases can feel less than perfect. But here’s the trick: they don’t have to be.
The holidays can feel messy, stressful, and sometimes even sad, but they can also offer a chance to celebrate life in simple, small ways. With the right spirit, Christmas can give you the chance to reflect, relax, and make lasting memories.
Here’s how to make your (holi)days merry and bright — even if all your Christmases can’t be white.
For most of us, the first step to feeling festive is decorating. For your home, put up a Christmas tree (real evergreens are optional) with an assortment of ornaments. Then, string up some colorful lights or put up stockings by the fireplace. If you want to save a few pennies, try out a DIY project or two.
For your office, set out a few Christmas knick-knacks or bring in a holiday-scented air freshener.
Family traditions are a great way to come together and feel closer to family members. Even if it’s out of your way, try to join in on a few traditions this year. Some families like to attend a holiday light show; some like to go Christmas caroling; some like to stay home and play board games.
Every family has different traditions, so however yours chooses to celebrate, get involved when you can.
While you take part in your family’s traditions, don’t be afraid to start a few of your own. Brainstorm something simple that you can do with family and friends this year and that you can easily do year after year.
You might decide, for example, to host holiday trivia, to read a story by the firelight, or to bring back a childhood favorite, Elf on the Shelf.
One of the easiest ways to celebrate the season is to flip on a film (or ten). The New York Post surveyed 2,000 Americans and found that the most popular Christmas movies, in descending order, are:
1. A Christmas Story
2. A Charlie Brown Christmas
3. It’s a Wonderful Life
4. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
5. Home Alone
We all know someone who rocks out to Jingle Bells in July — maybe you are that someone — but there’s no excuse not to in December. Business Insider reports that Americans’ favorite Christmas songs, in descending order, are:
1. “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey
2. “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee
3. “Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helms
4. “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on a Fire)” by Nat King Cole
5. “A Holly Jolly Christmas” by Burl Ives
Bring back a bit of childhood nostalgia by drafting up a letter to jolly ol’ Saint Nick. Write letters alongside your children or grandchildren, or even team up with a group of grown-up friends. When you’ve sealed your envelope, send off your letter.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) sponsors a North Pole Post Office every Christmas that can get your letter delivered in no time. Click here to get Santa’s address and know where to send your wish list.
In the midst of chilly days and long nights, treat yourself and your loved ones to a hot mug of hot chocolate. Buy a premixed version or try out our favorite Crockpot hot chocolate recipe.
All you need are 5 ingredients: chocolate chips, heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, milk, and vanilla. Get the full recipe here.
For many people, Christmastime is the perfect time to test out your cooking skills and try out a new recipe. Keep it classic with dishes like glazed ham, green beans, and gingerbread cookies. Or, put on a modern twist with options like tangy cranberry meatballs, twice-baked sweet potatoes, and cider hot toddies.
Colder weather can stir up the winter blues, but embracing the changes can lift your spirits. If you’re in a colder climate, bundle up and take a walk outside, make a snow angel, or go for a spin around the ice rink. If you’re in a warmer area, look into indoor experiences that mimic the cold air and winter winds.
Embracing the weather is one of the most effective, most affordable ways to enjoy the season.
If you’re looking for a way to get out and about, consider going to a Christmas gathering. Try out a Santa meet-and-greet at the local mall, get tickets to a Nutcracker performance, or attend a religious ceremony on Christmas Eve. Coming together with other people can help you spread the holiday spirit.
After all of your Christmas adventures, come back home and bundle up. Put on your favorite sweatshirt, fleece pajama pants, and Christmas-themed socks to keep your feet warm. Don’t forget to grab a blanket to keep you cozy.
It’s no secret that the holidays can be overwhelming. In fact, 88% of people feel that Christmastime is the most stressful time of the year. That’s why it’s important — between your work parties and kids’ Christmas plays — to set aside time to relax and recharge. This season, take some time for yourself and settle in with a good book, a Christmas movie, or even an afternoon nap.
Keeping with the spirit of Christmas, it’s always better to give than to receive. In addition to making time for yourself this Christmas, make time for other people by giving back and getting involved with local causes. Make a donation, volunteer your time, or simply spread the word.
Toys for Tots and Operation Christmas Child are good organizations to get started, but if you want to find something closer to home, look for opportunities in your community.
In the digital world, old-fashioned snail mail is a rarity. This season, though, you can bring back the tradition and send out Christmas cards to your loved ones.
Make a stop at your local community pharmacy and pick from an assortment of holiday-themed cards. Stick a stamp on your favorite ones and send them just in time for the holidays.
It’ll be a pleasant surprise for friends and family when opening their mailboxes.
While you’re at the pharmacy, check out gifts that you can give to a coworker, cousin, or even yourself. Find a unique assortment of local products, including everything from candles to cosmetics to gift sets. While you’re at it, stock up on stocking stuffers and wrapping paper with big red bows.
This last-minute trip can take the stress out of gift-giving and give you more time to celebrate the season way you want.
This Christmas, remember that the holiday season doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful. Implement a few ideas and see holly, jolly days ahead. From all of us at RxLocal, Merry Christmas!