Long before the calendar flips over to December, my mind is focused on the festive season. I love everything about this month of celebrations. Whether it’s St. Nicholas Day, Bodhi Day, Hanukkah, Yule, Christmas, Boxing Day, or New Year’s Eve there are countless opportunities to gather and celebrate together.
It’s a time typically when we do our best to gather with family and friends or friends who feel like family. We bring out all the good stuff from special food and décor to heirloom dishware, and silverware, often kept stashed away until such special events. In our home, growing up, we celebrated Christmas and when we were children, there was the promise that if we were on our best behaviour, a jolly man in a red suit would reward us with gifts. That worked on me when I was a child, but now I know that the spirit of Santa Claus is in all of us. I think we’re all deserving of gifts; there’s a lot we can do for ourselves and share with others with minimal financial costs attached.
While the special occasions on our calendar are unique and I for one look forward to many of them, we can turn any day into something special by adding in a few of our favourite joy snacks, which help to lift our spirits and when shared with others become an instant party.
“The most beautiful things are not associated with money; they are memories and moments. If you don’t celebrate those, they can pass you by.” – Alek Wek, Model and Designer
Let’s set the mood. If you have favourite festive treasures, take them out so you can enjoy them for as long as possible. I wait until December 1st to decorate in full force but a few of my favourite things start to show up around the end of November. During the holidays, I often have a pot of water on the stove; I add a few cloves, some orange peel and cinnamon to create a festive ambience.
In this dark month when we long for the return of more sunlight, we can delight ourselves with twinkling lights, which instantly add a festive touch. You can put them around a window, across a mantle, decorate a plant with them or place them on a shelf. They have some kind of special magic that says festive mood to me. I’ll sometimes put them on during the day, especially if I’ve invited someone over for a visit. Candles are fantastic too; I love the warm glow they add to a cozy winter day.
“Every day is a good day. There is something to learn, care and celebrate.” – Amit Ray, Walking the Path of Compassion
Music makes such a difference in my life, especially around the holidays. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but I love to have either the classic crooners on or some festive instrumental music playing. I find music enhances a celebration and instantly lifts my spirits, even gets me dancing sometimes. Music is a big part of the season for me and now that I’m not doing much Christmas shopping, I make sure to book tickets for a few seasonal concerts and have them on the calendar to look forward to in December.
We’ve set the scene but what to wear? It used to be that dressing up for a special occasion was the norm, however today just about anything goes. If you’re the only guest at this party, you can dress however you like, go formal, casual or wear your favourite pajamas (festive themes are always a hit). If you’re inviting guests, the same thing applies. You can ask them to dress up or dress casually or invite them to come in their favourite pajamas. You might consider an ugly sweater for added fun. Remember the rule is that there are no rules when it comes to spreading joy.
Food is certainly a focus of the festive season, regardless of what you celebrate. It’s a great opportunity to share family recipes and traditions. If you’re inviting guests, why not ask them to bring a dish that is part of their festive tradition. It’s a great way to get a conversation going and it’s fun to learn about how others celebrate the season. If you’re having a solo event, either bring out your favourite snacks, order food you love or have breakfast for lunch or dinner. Some of us enjoy being in the kitchen and others appreciate food but don’t love preparing it. It’s all good; remember the rule is that there are no rules.
“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is life to celebrate. “ – Oprah Winfrey
While in some ways, it feels like the wheels have come off in our world and there’s no disputing that times are tough. If we want to feel joyful, we must bring joy and when we share happiness with others, we’re tapping into the Santa Claus spirit I mentioned earlier. There are so many fun things we can do to spread joy in our families and our communities. Sharing stories about favourite family gatherings or gifts can spark beautiful memories and sharing those memories can help forge deeper connections with others.
Gift giving is a focus for some festive holidays. Consider wrapping a gift for yourself or donating a gift to a worthy cause. If you’re inviting guests, you can ask them to either bring something to donate or collect money to contribute to a group in need in your community. These seemingly small acts can make a big difference in someone’s life and that’s the spirit we’re focusing on when it comes to celebrating every day. Don’t wait for a special occasion, you are the special event and I’m so glad you’re here to share some of your joy in the world. That’s a beautiful gift. Wishing you a very happy holiday season.