During the holiday season our smiles are just a little broader, our handshakes a touch heartier, our purse strings a tad looser, and our creative juices overflow. We expend a lot of energy towards making this festive season memorable and enjoyable. Wouldn't it be nice to spread some of the cheer throughout the new year? It's possible to keep the Christmas spirit alive long after the tree is dead—and we can encourage our kids to help out in these endeavors, too!
For many of us, the yearly Christmas card is our only contact with friends and relatives. Instead of limiting correspondence to once a year, take a few minutes monthly to jot notes to those you hold dear to your heart. Don't forget to copy down any changes to mailing or email addresses before tossing the holiday greetings. Though not as personal as a handwritten letter, email is wonderful for communicating across the miles.
If you handed a holiday gift to your postal carrier, crossing guard, or office receptionist, you brought them great joy. Imagine how an unexpected handmade trinket, inexpensive present, or baked goods would brighten the days of the people you appreciate daily but may not reward frequently.
Likewise, while we tend to be more charitable during the holidays, our help is needed all year long. Consider serving meals during the long, hot summer or donating much needed items, such as toiletries, household goods, and toys monthly. Financial gifts are always welcome. Your nickels and quarters from bottle deposits can add up to significant assistance to many organizations.
You may not see groups of brightly clad carolers strolling in your neighborhood in May, but singing is a year-round activity. Join the church or community choir or gather the family around the piano for an old-fashioned sing-along. Bring your group to a nursing home, pediatric hospital, or rehabilitation center to entertain the residents.
Just about everyone in our small town gathers in the Center for the annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony. Festivities kick off with performances and presentations by the high school band, the local school for performing arts, and the Chamber of Commerce. At dusk, fireworks explode overhead to herald the opening of the holiday season. But your involvement in communtiy activities does not have to be limited to festive holiday occasions. Get involved in programs which have a positive impact on your city. Join your neighbors in clean-up and improvement projects, attend municipal meetings and support local initiatives.
We make a special effort to choose the perfect gifts for our family and friends during the holidays. Are there other ways we can coddle them throughout the year? Taking interest in the activities they enjoy, preparing favored foods, and encouraging and appreciating them daily will make even the grouchiest Scrooge feel treasured.
Christmas crafts are available throughout the year, but even if you prefer to adapt your creativity to each season, homemade decorations and gifts brighten the darkest winter day. And they are a great hobby for every member of the family.
Certain holiday traditions are passed on from generation to generation, while others develop over time. But memorable activities can highlight every day of the year. Create a weekly fun night, make one Saturday a month community outreach day or even schedule a quarterly family roundtable discussion to add distinctive threads to the tapestry of your family's life.
Food takes center stage at many holiday gatherings, but it may become humdrum at other times of the year. Make mealtime spectacular at least once a month by trying new recipes, themes, and table settings. Get everyone involved in cooking family favorites.
Of course the holidays are spiritual celebrations. Contemplating the significance of the season should be a daily activity. Take a few moments every morning to pray and meditate on the Creator who gave us the many gifts we enjoy all year long.