Simple Ideas

In The Mood: Finding The Holiday Spirit

XMAS Ball 2

As a transplant from New England, now living in Florida, I find I have to work harder to find the Holiday Spirit.  Let’s face it — with temperatures reaching the 70’s, and not a snow flurry in sight (just rain!), it just doesn’t seem like Christmas.  And somehow, the “snow” in the Mall just doesn’t cut it!

So I have developed a checklist, of sorts, to get me in the mood. It has worked for 16 years, and maybe it will help you find your holiday spirit, too, whether you live in the warmth of the South or the snowy North.

Set a Date –Between traveling for kids’ sports, family commitments, and work events, sometimes you just have to schedule when to start celebrating.  I choose a date to begin my holiday decorating AND a date to finish it.  If you have limited time for decorating, maybe don’t go all out.  If you don’t have everything done by your finish date, so what?  Just get the important stuff out that makes you and your family happy. And don’t feel guilty when your neighbor’s Christmas display is finished on Thanksgiving evening.  You have your own schedule – don’t pressure yourself.

Set It Up (In stages)– I do my holiday decorating in stages. First, the Christmas Village is set up; next the outdoor decorations; and finally the trees.  This is spread out over a week, so I don’t overwhelm myself.   And yes, I did say trees! (So much for simple)  Years ago, I started doing a second tree upstairs by my kids rooms.  About two years ago, I tried to simplify and eliminate the second tree, but guess what?  My kids decided THEY wanted it and now it is their tree to decorate – and they do it all. It makes me feel good to know they have their own traditions already.

Take a Stroll – Nothing perks up your holiday spirit like taking an evening stroll where the holiday lights already shine.  I am lucky enough to live near St. Augustine, Florida, where they begin their “Nights of Lights” the weekend before Thanksgiving.  Almost every building in this beautiful, historic city is lit in tiny, white lights for six weeks and it has a magical feel.   So find a “Night of Lights” near where you live, soak it in, be present in the moment, and feel the holiday spirit.

Set the Music – On the morning of your decorating day, blast the holiday tunes!  Sing along with your favorites and get the rest of the family in on it.  Nothing says holiday spirit like an off-tune rendition of “Jingle Bells”!  Plan for a little holiday music every day through the holidays.  I set up on my iPod several different holiday playlists, each with a different mood.  My personal favorite is the “Jazzy Christmas”, featuring Ella Fitzgerald, Eartha Kitt, Little Charlie and the Nightcats, Lou Rawls, and more, crooning jazz-styled holiday songs.

Take a Tour – One evening, just prior to Christmas, we fill travel mugs with hot cocoa, don our silly Santa Hats, and pile into the car.  With the holiday music on, we take a tour of holiday lights in the neighborhood.  If it is warm enough, we roll down the windows and blast the music.

And finally:

Put The Devices Down – We all love technology (some of us even have careers based on it!), but a key element of getting the Holiday Spirit is to be present in the moment.  You can’t be present in the moment and still text, tweet, “like”, and post.  Use them to take photos, but post them later.  Tweet about Aunt Millie’s horrendous sweater tomorrow.  You may miss something more important – connection with your family and friends.

Here’s to you finding your Holiday Spirit – Happy Holidays!

Thanksgiving Togetherness

Smug – that is what I first feel as I sit watching video of Black Friday shoppers storming the stores that dared to open on Thanksgiving.  It is easy to make fun of them.  So simple to look down upon them and say, “How ridiculous, how silly they are, losing sleep all to just get a deal on some electronic item, thinking it is something they NEED!”

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time for togetherness with family and friends, right?  To gather together to give thanks for what we have, and reflect on what we strive for.

But then I realize something about those Black Friday Shoppers.   They are often with a partner – perhaps their child, their mom, their best friend, or husband.   They have huge smiles on their faces.  They have a goal; they face an adventure together that may, or may not, pan out.  They laugh with strangers, comparing their lists, asking what the other is there for.  They are thankful for their place in line, knowing they have it over all those who fall behind them. They strategize and plan.  They work together for a common goal.

Sounds a little like the original Thanksgiving, doesn’t it? (minus the bright lights and Black Friday Circulars!)

Thanksgiving Togetherness can be found across the country, in so many variations.  It is not the location of that celebration; it is not the size bird being served.  It is about the common goals and dreams — of both the individual and the community — and the ability to be thankful wherever you are.  Simple as that.

(Full Disclosure: Simple Solutions Diva is very thankful that her kids did not drag her out of bed at 3 a.m. this year to hit the stores like last year!)


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