WARNING: I have launched full-force into the holiday spirit, and I will be spending a lot of time writing about the Christmas holiday over the next month. For those of you not at all interested in Christmas, I hope you'll stick around until the New Year when my sparkle-dusted, green-and-red holiday-themed posts subside. And for those of you interested in diving headfirst in to the holiday spirit with me, get ready for some glitter-coated, snow-covered Christmas posts certain to inspire you!
For me, and for many others, December is a very festive time of year. It's the time of year when the season is changing from fall to winter, when many holidays are being celebrated, and when the air is filled with the promise and excitement of people coming together in celebration. If you celebrate a December holiday, you most likely want to have a memorable holiday season, and have every intention of making it the "best one ever." But, if you're anything like me, with the hustle and bustle of everything, too often I look back on the holidays and it all seems like a blur of red and green and sparkle and something vaguely resembling magic.
I always want to be present for the month of December, but between the holiday preparation, the parties, and the To Do lists, I often feel like I rush and rush and suddenly find myself in January, scratching my head and wondering where the holiday season went. Being present when there's so much to do can be very difficult, which is why I've taken a step back from the busy-ness of the holidays to think about how to make it a season that I will remember. (Yes, much as I cringe to admit it, the idea for this post came to me while watching a commercial for the Lexus "December to Remember" event...)
As much as I want to be present and remember the month of December, it's a lot easier to say, "Be present!" than it is to actually do it. This year I've decided to come up with a (hopefully) foolproof plan to make the most of the month. Though some of the plan does apply to the Christmas season specifically, most of it can be applied to anyone's December -- or any month for that matter -- that you want to remember.
Create a December to Remember
Step 1: Live each moment in the present. During the holiday season, there are so many different things going on. There are events to attend, gifts to purchase, and and array of over-stimulating holiday decorations pretty much everywhere. As a result of all this commotion, it can be very easy to get distracted from what is supposed to be the true meaning of the holiday season -- giving to others and spending time with those you love. When you find yourself overwhelmed by the chaos of the holiday season, take a deep breath and remind yourself to pay attention. Even the smallest things -- like a holiday display in a store window, or smile from a festive stranger -- can symbolize the holiday season. If you take a moment to pay attention to what's going on around you, you'll be much more likely to remember it after the season has passed you by.
Step 2: Embrace your favorite traditions. While you're doing all of this paying attention to what's going on around you, you might as well take a good look at your holiday traditions. Are there things you love to do every year? What traditions did you have in your family while you were growing up? What can you do today to keep those traditions alive. Sticking to the traditions to love is one way to make sure your holiday season will be more memorable. For example, I used to love opening an advent calendar every year during the month of December and this year my mom bought me a new one so I could keep up the childhood tradition I loved so much. Another tradition I try always to keep is reading The Magic Christmas. No matter how many times I've read it, it really puts me in the holiday spirit. Embracing traditions you know and love really can help to make your holiday more memorable.
Step 3: Be open to new experiences. As much as I love adhering to old traditions, a surefire way to make this December one to remember is to do something you've never done before. Don't know where to get new ideas? Ask your friends and acquaintances what their holiday traditions are. Some might sound strange to you, but you're bound to hear about something that sounds new and exciting. Trying something new -- regardless of what you're celebrating -- is a great way to make a moment memorable. When we do the same thing over and over again, we're a lot less likely to remember it. So if you really want to spice up your holiday season and make this December one you'll always remember, open your mind to new ideas and don't be afraid to break away from the things you've always done. You never know -- you might just create a brand new tradition for yourself!
Step 4: Capture your moments on film. Sure, we all have every intention of photographing life's most important moments, but how often do we really get the camera out and start capturing moments? It's easy to look through the lens at the obvious moments -- like Christmas morning or when the family is sitting around the table -- but what about the not-so-obvious moments? Think about the photographs you take and really pay attention to the moments you want to remember. These moments don't have to be the typical stringing-the-tree-lights or sitting-on-Santa's-lap situations. The moments that matter most are the moments that are special for you. They might be completely odd or startling typical, but they are your special moments. Really think about what you want to remember this December and be sure to have your camera close by. You never know when a truly memory-worthy moment will strike so be prepared.
Step 5: Take time to write it down. Whether you're a writer like me or not, you should take the time this December to write about the moments that matter most to you. You don't have to be Plath or Woolf to put the pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and make a record of what inspires you this holiday season. All you need is an open mind and a little dedication. When rushing from one thing to another this December, it will be hard to pause and write down the memories you're experiencing, but, believe me, you'll be happy if you take the time to do it. Even if you don't have a ton of free time (and who does!), set aside a few minutes at the end of every day this month and write about what you've experienced. Write about the things that mean the most to you and strive to focus on the positive things about the holiday season. If you take a few minutes to put the moments into writing now, you'll look back next year and smile at the memories.
Like you probably do, I struggle with being present during the holiday season. I really, really want to embrace the moments I'm experiencing and live completely in the now, but often the stress of the holidays dominates my thoughts and I'm always looking to the future, pondering all of the things yet to be crossed off on the To Do list. However, unlike holidays I've experienced before, I'm really going to try to live in the moments this December and, hopefully, it will be a December I never forget.
How will you make this December unforgettable?
Any tips for making the most of this month?