Tag Archives: Christmas morning

Shared Post: 25 Ways to Have The Best Christmas Ever by Austin Sailsbury, c/o Relevant Magazine

Rejoice, it’s finally Christmastime! And that means parties and Santa and a possibly fatal dose of “family time.” Around the world there are shoppers out shopping and caramel corn that needs popping and stockings being hung by chimneys with care.

And while its true that nostalgic traditions are a huge part of what makes Christmas that most magical time of the year, why not make this the year you start some new traditions of your own? Here are 25 ideas to help you get started on making this season the brightest (and most creative) one yet.

  1. First things first, buy Vince Guaraldi’s jazz classic album A Charlie Brown Christmas and put it on repeat. Never before has a cartoon soundtrack been so classy and so perfect for so many different occasions.
  2. Brew up some joy by making a festive “aroma pot” (orange, cinnamon, apple cider, cloves) early one Saturday morning and let it simmer on the stove all day long. Then sit back and let the Ghost of Christmas Delicious fill your entire home with seasonal smells.
  3. Surprise a neighbor, colleague or stranger with a freshly baked treat. But no fruitcakes, please.
  4. Go ahead and actually read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol this year. Go beyond the Muppets (God bless them) and get to know this oft retold (but too often watered down) story of salvation. And if you’re really brave, try Dickens’ other seasonal classic, The Cricket on the Hearth.
  5. Incorporate more candlelight into your home and soak up the chilled-out winter ambiance. Candles somehow make everything prettier.
  6. Find a way to smell some good old-fashioned woodsmoke—a campout, bonfire, fireplace or even a metal trashcan full of Home Depot scraps. Just make it happen, whatever it takes.
  7. Put on some cozy house slippers and commit to a new winter-friendly (in other words, indoor) hobby: knitting, wood carving, finger painting … you’ll figure it out.
  8. Spend a day volunteering at a homeless shelter and rediscover what it really means to be thankful and generous.
  9. Tie a little 99 cent Christmas bell to your keychain or front door handle and let the jingling begin (as a bonus, you’ll be winning big time with all the angels hoping for promotion this year).
  10. Try making homemade hot cocoa mix (and homemade ‘mallows): then add hot milk, sip, share and repeat.
  11. Create a flash mob of generosity. Make some Salvation Army bell ringer’s day by coordinating a group to fill that little red bucket with rapid-fire ascending donations: “here’s a quarter, Merry Christmas!” “Here’s a dollar, Merry Christmas!” “Here’s a check for two hundred dollars, donated from our college Ultimate team, Happy New Year!” Then dare that kindly bell ringer not to be filled with goodwill toward men.
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    Take a long walk out in the cold just to get that good rosy cheeked feeling. Then see number 10. 

  13. Plan a “Christmas Remix-Mas” themed talent show / game night with friends or family: featuring charades and the restaging of beloved Christmas movie scenes (“Griswold!”)
  14. Savor Peppermint-flavored everything. Especially those beautifully fleeting light-green packaged M&Ms.
  15. Learn to play and then fall in love with the riotous Danish Christmas game “Pakkeleg” (think ‘white elephant’ at 100 mph).
  16. Go Christmas caroling. In the right setting, and with the right ensemble (and just a dash of Christmas courage) your chorus of festive voices can change someone’s world.
  17. Make sure to get outside and play in the first snow of the season: no matter what time of day or night. Don’t forget to catch a snowflake or two on your tongue and ”taste the happy.”
  18. Find someplace you can take a carriage ride, then just do it. It’s not cheesy—it’s Christmas.
  19. Try your hand at “Guerilla Decorating.” Identify something bland, ugly or Scrooge-ish in your office, city or neighborhood and give it the Buddy the Elf treatment: a little TLC, a smattering of glitter and a strand of twinkling white lights can save any old humbug!
  20. Watch a few non-traditional “Christmas movies” that focus on the beauty of redemption. Obviously start with The Royal Tenenbaums.
  21. Attend a Christmas concert at a local school, church or community center. But only if they promise to play the handbells (call ahead and ask about this. Trust me, there is nothing worse than sitting through two hours of amateur choral music and then getting no handbells. The only prescription is more handbells!).
  22. Read The Night Before Christmas aloud to a child (but be prepared for him or her to ask you “the big question” about Father Christmas.)
  23. Four words: freshly roasted candied almonds.
  24. Resurrect Santa for Mom and Dad. Surprise your parents by doing for them what they did for you all those incredible years: make Christmas morning magical. Get up early, spread out gifts, light the fire, brew some coffee and hang those stockings by the chimney with care! This is a guaranteed memory-maker.
  25. Lastly (and this is bordering on heretical), try buying no presents this year. I guarantee you that the people you love the most will treasure quality time, homemade gifts and the memories made much more than anything you can get from Amazon Prime. Plus, this way, you can avoid that whole “The Drone Who Stole Christmas” scenario, and replace seasonal materialism with something a little closer to the True Meaning of Christmas.

Read more here.

traditions: Christmas stockings

My parents made a point of keeping this tradition with each passing year, no matter their economic5b2b268df75b2308cdd26822e5aeb7de and financial state. The only difference in gifts found in our Christmas stockings on Christmas morning was the amount and type.

Tougher years consisted of the little LifeSavers booklet, consisting of ten different flavored rolls of LifeSavers, and a hand-made card. Other years consisted of the same plus an assortment of candy and some sort of brain teaser/puzzle gift.

Our stockings were the first gifts opened before going to Christmas services at our church.

I looked forward to enjoying the LifeSavers and assortment of candy during that morning service – back before they did Christmas Eve services. My memory can still taste the pineapple flavored LifeSavers even though I haven’t had them in quite some time – no need for excess sugar. Come to think of it, I probably couldn’t stomach it now, but that’s beside the point.

There’s a popular legend as to how the stocking tradition got started:

Long ago there was a poor man who lived with his three daughters. It was tradition that the father would offer a monetary diary to a future son-in-law when his daughter married. Since he was poor, he had no money to offer. A man named Saint Nicholas was passing through the village when he heard about this. He wanted to help, but knew the man would never accept charity. He decided to help in secret. He waited until it was night and crept through the chimney. He had three bags of gold coins which was placed in the stockings of the three girls, which had been hung on the mantel to dry. When they woke and found the money, they were so happy. The girls were able to got married and this led to the tradition of hanging stockings on the mantle.

Unfortunately, I currently don’t have a mantle nor do I have a chimney. It’s a good thing I’ve never believed in Santa… I currently use my entertainment center and/or the DVD case. They work just as well.

My Christmas stocking hasn’t ever had anything in it.

Instead, I use it as a reminder of all of the non-material things I could fill it with: acts of kindness, developing virtue and character….the spirituality of keeping Christ in Christmas (not to mention, all year round – you’ll often hear/read that line from me).

“I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” – Jesus, Matthew 25.40

The month of December is filled with more than just the normal holiday hustle and bustle. People give in December more than any other time of the year (not including yearly community service campaigns at work – this is different). Honestly, I find that rather sad. Shouldn’t we give to those less fortunate all year round?

I encourage you to look for ways to help, no matter the time of year. Start now and continue into next year. Give and serve in both big and small ways , in all ways – financially, spiritually, talent-wise, time, etc. I’ve discovered that the most valuable gift you can give is your time – you can’t get that back – but the blessings, when time is used wisely, are worth it. And thank God for the gift of Jesus – how can you serve him today?