Did anyone notice how quickly December crept up on us this year? I don’t mean to sound negative; I love this time of the year. But at times I also find myself frustrated by it. It’s Black Friday as I write this. That’s interesting verbiage for the day after we are to remind ourselves of all we are thankful for. The season for many of us can become a whirlwind of activity, frantic work schedules, painful reminders of loss and broken relationships, and overspending to get that elusive ‘perfect gift.’ I think in today’s world, we need to be intentional to make the most of this time year. So here are a few suggestions; they seem obvious-but it takes some effort to put them into practice.
Build relationships. Carve out time for the special people in your lives. Build a fire, go for walks, do things you can enjoy together that won’t include the pressure of crowds, time constraints or expense. I know it’s not easy to do this time of year, that’s why you need to be intentional about it. And those broken relationships-do what you can to mend them. You may not be able to fix them but follow the advice of the apostle Paul, “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Make gift giving go beyond the material. Yes, it’s fun to find that ‘perfect gift.’ But if you don’t find it, or can’t afford it, go with something simpler. And realize it truly is more blessed to give than receive. Volunteering your time or abilities with those in need is a great way to share with those less fortunate and for a single person, couple or family to realize the many blessings we enjoy that we can easily take for granted.
If you have traditions, celebrate them. Make time for them. If you don’t really have any, now would be a great time to give some thought to establishing some. They are a wonderful way to celebrate the season and set it apart as a truly special time of year.
Finally, open your heart. There’s no denying that this is a time for many to celebrate their faith. If you have a faith background, take the time to practice it, whether it’s the birth of Jesus, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or some other faith tradition; don’t lose sight of the spiritual significance. If you aren’t ‘religious’ you may want to give thought to spiritual formation; it’s one of the recognized pillars of resiliency.
As we approach this time of frenzied activity, be deliberate about making it a truly, meaningful time of year for yourself and those around you.