My latest yuletide piece for the Chester County Independent:
There is something about the holiday season that brings out the best in people. When we bump into shoppers in crowded stores, we smile, say “excuse me” and allow them to move ahead. Our thoughts turn to helping the homeless and collecting food boxes for those who are in need. Perhaps an organization or church adopts a child for Christmas that otherwise would never receive gifts. Yes, Christmas is a time of year when we think of sharing material possessions as well as our time.
That baby named Jesus, born in a manger in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago is as real today as when the shepherds saw the star and came to worship him.
This Christmas think of ways your family can put joy into making this holiday season one of your best. Would it not be wonderful if your family could look back and say, “You know, Christmas 2015 was one I’ll always remember?” Could these ideas make that happen?
• Make a list of lonely people in your community who will spend Christmas alone this year. Plan a special visit and take a plate of holiday cookies your family prepared.
• Attend a Christmas Cantata as a family. Introduce children to the traditional anthems and hymns based on Scripture from the Christmas story as recorded in Matthew and Luke.
• Encourage your family to take winter walks. Bundle up the kids, drive to a nearby park or walk in your neighborhood. Walking clears the mind and helps the body cope with everyday stress.
• Don’t forget the dog – he needs exercise, too.
• Rise before the family and have a few minutes of solitary time. Watch the sun come up in the eastern sky. Search for lacy patterns of frost on windowpanes. Listen for wildlife that may venture forth early on a winter morning. Little things mean a lot!
• Invite neighbors in for a soup and sandwich lunch. Or, plan a potluck meal where everyone brings a dish. Make time for friends you really enjoy.
• Volunteer to serve meals at a homeless shelter. Make this a family event that includes older children. Research shows that children, who contribute as youth, continue this service as adults.
• Help children make personal gifts for friends and family members. It’s much more fun than purchasing a ready-made present.
• Watch the faces of children as they sing Christmas carols. Thank God for each precious child.
• Fill your home with the aroma of cooking during the holidays. Save orange peel; add a sprinkle of cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg to a pot of water and simmer throughout the day.
• Decorate your home with natural greenery. Teach children to identify evergreens that grow in your area, such as cedar, pine, holly, spruce and mistletoe.
The Christmas season can be one of stress and anxiety if you fail to keep a balance in life. Take time for exercise, healthy eating and maintaining a positive attitude. Do not forget to express your love to family and friends. Remind them of how much they mean to you during this holiday season and throughout the year.
Carolyn Tomlin is a Jackson, Tennessee-based author that has been writing and publishing since 1988. She has authored 19 books and more than 4,000 articles in magazines such as Entrepreneur, Kansas City Star, American Profile, Tennessee Home & Farm, Home Life, Mature Living, ParentLife and many others. You can purchase her full-length works here.