Twice. That's how many times everything I believed about Christmas has been torn to little sparkly shreds of lies.
First, when my older brother told me there was no Santa. I cried on the couch in my parent's lap.
Second, when I found out that Jesus probably wasn't really born at Christmas time. Right?! I gasped aloud with horror in the pew when I heard that one, maybe even muttered, 'lieeeeeeesss' under my breath. Historians look at the events, star references, shepherd references, lack of eggnog, etc. and determined Jesus was most likely born in the spring. The Christmas season was later associated to the birth of Jesus by the first Roman Emperor to uphold Christianity, in the fourth century.
One thing remains though, the evolution of Christmas. Every Christmas tradition we have: Santa, evergreens, yule logs, stars, advents, presents, stockings -- they all have their own unique story of where they came from and how they changed over the years. Our modern Christmas is a melting pot of cultural references and consumerism.
But we are always fighting to make it mean something. We are talking about 'the reason for the season' and 'presence over presents'. There is a mindset to really stop and love each other in this wintery month of twinkling lights and mandarin oranges. Sure, we should feel this way all year. We should be sharing our love, time, food, help, companionship all year round. But....well....maybe we can make up for the whole year with one season? Maybe it's the tax write offs? Maybe it's a Christmas miracle?
We can help in simple ways, without getting complicated or political, we can show up and help.
Because the fact is there are people who don't get that magical, warm Christmas we all chase. There are some people who only carry silent burdens through these weeks. There are people who are alone, cold, sad, unwell, or struggling -- and they are all around us. We can help in simple ways, without getting complicated or political, we can show up and help.
Simple ways to spread the love this Christmas
So, for those of you who are feeling the Christmas spirit and channeling your inner Saint Nicolas (the secret gift-giver Santa was based on), here are some simple ways to spread the love this season. . . .
- Shovel someone's driveway
- Bring them firewood
- Chop and stack firewood for someone
- Share your home baking
- Buy someone a little table top tree
- Have someone new over for tea and cookies
- Have someone over for a whole meal of food
- Hold the door open for someone
- Offer someone help with their groceries or mail
- Help out at a community dinner
- Donate (good stuff) to the crisis center/food bank/shelter
- Welcome a newcomer
- Go carolling to the old folks home
- Play cards with the old folks (be prepared to be whopped)
- When someone asks you how you are, look them in the eye, answer them and ask them back
- Take your grocery cart all the way back to the store (gold star citizen!)
- Write someone and tell them how much they mean to you
- Bring someone frozen dinners, or send them from a local Meals on Wheels
- Choose a family or neighbour and make them a care package to leave on their door step
- Smile at people
- Take your neighbour's garbage bins to their carport
- Bring books/crafts/toys to a local children's ward (phone and ask them first)
- Pay for someone else's anything (groceries, medication, coffee, gas, meal)
- Volunteer with Operation Red Nose
- Tip your waiter/waitress well
- Be a designated driver
- Babysit for a friend
- Take someone out to coffee
- Compliment a stranger
- Send a letter to a friend who has lost a loved one this year expressing your sympathy and love in this season
- Call your local shelter or food bank and ask them how you can help
- Donate extra socks, toques, scarves and winter coats to a local shelter
- Send a friend a Starbucks gift card email
- Help shovel snow off a roof
- Give a card, box of chocolates, bottle of baileys -- whatever -- to service people in your life
- Surprise a friend with Christmas lights in their trees
- Pick up garbage
- Hold a neighbourhood bonfire to get to know each other better
- Write/call your oldest relatives
- Drop off Christmas treats to a local business/service in town
- Knit/sew/quilt something warm for someone who could use it
- Just ask, if you know someone who could use a hand just ask them how you could help them this Christmas
If Christmas is the time when we start being charitable, then so be it -- let's hope it opens the door to being comfortable to doing it year round. It can be free or expensive, simple or complex, local or global -- but sharing love in practical ways is what makes the world a better place.