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6 Ways to Reclaim the Real Spirit of Christmas

December 24, 2013

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With all the emphasis on spending money you may or may not have, don’t you feel the real spirit of Christmas has been lost?

To help take the consumerism out of Christmas, here are a few ways to reclaim the reason for the season tomorrow by helping those in need and spending quality time with family and friends.

1. Give your time:Volunteering is the gift that keeps on giving. It brings joy to both you and the recipient. You could spend part of today or tomorrow serving meals at a homeless shelter, delivering meals to families displaced by a natural disaster, visiting a nursing home, or helping out at an animal shelter.

2. Make a donation: I like to donate my gently used coats to coat drives run by Burlington Coat Factory (you get a 10 percent off coupon) and New York Cares. You can also donate an inexpensive new toy to Toys for Tots so that a child in need has something to look forward to. As a gift, you could even make a charitable donation on behalf of a friend or family member.

3. Watch a holiday classic: Every Christmas morning, you can usually find It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story playing on TV. Kids young and old also enjoy watching animated classics like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town. And Love, Actually is a newer holiday movie fave.

For me, the most nostalgic Christmas story is The Nutcracker.  The first time I saw it I was seven or eight, and last year I dragged my husband to see the timeless ballet--he enjoyed it but I knew he wasn’t that familiar with the story when he asked, “Who is the mouse king?”

These feel-good holiday movies and programs help us recapture the bright-eyed innocence of Christmas past and are a wholesome way to bond with your loved ones.

4. Make homemade gifts and baked goods: When I was a kid, I looked forward to the chocolate chip cookies a family friend made with her children. And my Dad often delivers his yummy pound cake to neighbors and friends.  So if you have a skill—baking, painting, sewing or knitting--making your own gifts is a great way to personalize a gift and share your talents.

5. Call a friend: Instead of texting, emailing or chatting on Facebook, reach out the old-fashioned way and wish a Merry Christmas to a friend or family member you haven’t spoken to in a while.

6. Set aside time for your spiritual practice: Whether you’re religious or spiritual, Christmas is a time to honor your Higher Power and count your blessings.  Worship your way, whether that means singing Christmas songs at home or in church, kneeling in prayer, sitting in meditation, or taking a reflective walk.

What will you do to reclaim the real spirit of Christmas?