The Christmas/holiday season is not my favorite. In fact, it didn't even make my list of top 10 favorite holidays. There are many reasons for this: the commercialism, the over-the-top consumerism, the crowds, politics, and so so much more. However, over the years, I have managed to get over myself and actually enjoy it. So, I'm presenting my top six tips for an enjoyable holiday season.
1. Lower your expectations. I think this is when I started to dislike Christmas actively: when I had such high hopes that it would be THE ABSOLUTE MOST PERFECT DAY EVER. Even though it was probably just fine, it was still a disappointment because of my unrealistic expectations. Over the years, I understand that Christmas is not all about me, and keeping my expectations low makes anything good that happens that much better. I know this seems cynical, but trust me, it totally helps.
2. Take time to enjoy the little things. This is a hugely busy time of year for everyone, but it helps to BE in the moment where you notice the Christmas lights in your neighborhood and enjoy them, or to enjoy the smell of Christmas trees, or to really listen to (and enjoy) the holiday music at the store when you are shopping.
3. Do small little acts of service everyday. During this time of year, I am constantly helping other people with college papers and presentations. I can't really do so much, but I take the time to do what I can for others. Also, I really appreciate the small acts of service that are rendered to me by both friends and strangers – opening doors for me, or moving something at the store for me so I don't run it over with my wheelchair. It doesn't need to be a huge sacrifice, but the smallest things mean so much sometimes.
4. Be kind to others and to yourself in your head. During this time of year, public places seem to be extremely crowded, and it can be very frustrating. You can be upset about someone cutting you off on the freeway, or you could give them the benefit of the doubt in your head. This is something that I pretty much always do, and I know it makes me happy. I don't have trouble being kind to myself or others in my head. I am constantly thinking the best about others, and when you do that, you don't really have time to think the worst about yourself.
5. Don't do too much. Cramming every possible holiday activity into the month of December can be extremely stressful. I really wanted to go to a church Christmas party last Friday, but I ended up hanging out with my mom and sister instead. Although Christmas partying is fun, it was easy for me to recognize that letting go of a couple of holiday activities is just fine if it means spending time with the people who really matter.
6. Be as kind to those who are closest to you as you would to complete strangers. Many times, we are polite to strangers and acquaintances, but we get short and snappy and angry at the people that we love the most. This can sometimes take an extraordinary effort, but it is well worth it. It's hard for me, too, sometimes. I know I can hold my loved ones to a ridiculously high standard, because I feel they should know better. Let the small things slide. Compliment them on what they do that is good. Stop being passive aggressive, and use your words and actions to let them know you love them.
I think one of the main reasons I have a problem with Christmas, sometimes, is that we exercise our will to do good to others MORE than we do at other times of the year. I know that sounds weird, but I feel like we should always try our best to be nice to people, not just around the holiday season. For those who believe in Christ, they always say that we should "remember the reason for the season." But I think that we should be Christlike and exercise charity all year round. Anyhow, that kind of got off on a tangent. It's important to recognize that those who make an extraordinary effort around this time of year are not hypocrites, and that we should take this holiday spirit and transform it into a year-round spirit to always be excellent to each other.
- Top six tips to enjoying the holiday season