The perfect toy will make your child happy and will fill you with the joy of Christmas. A new set of bargain priced indoor-outdoor Christmas lights will make you the envy of the neighborhood and will give you a warm sense of holiday satisfaction. Christmas, the jewelers tell us, won’t really be complete unless that special woman receives the gift that lasts forever (and takes nearly as long to pay off). Even the simple notion of purchasing a holiday greeting card is imbued with heightened significance. Tear jerking commercials remind us just how important it is to buy the name brand cards if we really want to communicate our feelings for loved ones during the holiday season.
It is no wonder holiday stress has reached epidemic proportions. We receive message after message telling us just how important every single thing we buy and do is with respect to having a good holiday season. Simultaneously, we are bombarded with reminders that this is the most important time of the year. Confronted with these messages, we look for a way out. We look for a way to capture that elusive sense of holiday satisfaction—often with a wad of cash or a credit card.
There’s nothing wrong with spending within your means to have an enjoyable holiday. It is, after all, a time of giving and a time of celebration and some level of cost is probably inevitable. No one should begrudge another for buying that holiday diamond or eschewing cut-rate greeting cards. However, there are ways to increase your enjoyment of the holidays without spending one extra dime.
One great piece of holiday wisdom is the simple reminder to “think about ideas and people instead of things.” Even the most free-spending Christmas shopper, when asked, will tell you that the holidays are a time to reflect on the messages of the season and to spend time with loved ones. The spirit of the holidays can be transmitted by proxy in the form of a shiny toy or even shinier ring, but the message is actually more clearly communicated by a simple hug or a quality conversation.
Too often, we use things as our means of expression instead of using ourselves. By retaining a focus on people and ideas instead of things, we find can begin to really communicate the message of love that underlies everyone’s understanding of the holidays. A hug, a conversation or a walk around the block with a loved one doesn’t cost a dime and can be the best way to build holiday cheer, pleasant memories, and an appreciation of the holidays.
Another free means by which you can enjoy the holidays more is by making a contribution of time to a cause you support. There is absolutely nothing wrong with making financial or material contributions to charities. In fact, those contributions are entirely necessary for most charitable organizations to stay afloat and are also a great way to celebrate the holidays. However, giving of yourself can really make the holidays matter and add a dimension to your appreciation of the holiday season.
Volunteering one’s time and energy to a charitable cause can increase one’s appreciation of the holidays and allows them to truly embody the spirit of giving that underpins the season. These simple acts of kindness can be truly transformative—not only for those who benefit from the gift but also for those who are willing to volunteer.
If you want another strand of Christmas lights and they fit into your budget, go ahead. Feel free to pick up that great toy for your child and the expensive knick-knack for your spouse. Buy only the best wrapping paper, if you so desire. If you feel like you can improve your holiday season with a few purchases, you can go ahead and try.
However, you should also remember that there are a few things you can do that won’t cost you a bit that can really increase the quality of your holiday season. Remember to think about people and ideas—instead of things. Consider volunteering your time and effort to a worthwhile cause, too. Simple things like these can improve a holiday more than any gadget or gift.