The Christmas season has just begun. And no, it didn't start back when stores had their shelves already stocked with decorations well before Halloween (looking at you, CVS). Despite the commercialized status, Christmas is a joyous time of year. It's a time of giving, a time of being with your family, a time for peace, all that good stuff. I mean, you should always be thankful of what you have in life, be nice, and try to be with your loved ones and friends when you can. However, there are some things that you can do differently this time of year. So today, we're going to look at some of those aspects. Here are the 12 Dos and Don'ts of the Christmas season.
1. DO: Have a Christmas money plan
Stuff everywhere! Apple just released the new iPhone 7 or whatever! NEW ELMO DOLL FOR LITTLE SUZY! SALE! SALE! SALE! MUST BUY! It is so easy to get lost in all of the flashy new products and advertising. You have to buy the perfect gift for everyone! But do you really? If you plan on purchasing a lot of gifts for the people you love, do it within budget. Plan out how much you can afford to spend, what's on sale, and what you're buying. But always remember: it's the thought that counts.
You don't have to get everyone a new phone, a diamond necklace, or the new "Call of Duty" game. Those receiving from you don't have to be spoiled with expensive, unnecessary gifts. If the Christmas present is for someone you truly love and care about, then they will appreciate anything you give them (except for something like, I don't know, a dead bird). So please, don't go overboard with the spending. Or else you won't have enough cash when you end up really needing it!
2. DON'T: Shop just for yourself
So who here was outside in the cold waiting in line to get yourself something for Black Friday instead of spending Thanksgiving with the family? Was it worth it? Or how about all of those things you bought online for Cyber Monday? Were they for your parents? Your siblings? Don't lie, we've all been there. Impulse buying can get the best of everyone. It's just more crap you don't need. Of course, we all deserve to treat ourselves every now and then. But you can buy stuff for yourself any other time of the year, as long as you're not overdoing it.
For Christmas, let's show those close to our hearts how much we appreciate them through a nice present. It's a way to say "Thanks!" It's about giving to others, not yourself. Oh, and you have plenty of time to buy these gifts. Next year, try going shopping AFTER Black Friday. No need for the trampling.
3. DO: Random act of kindness!
Of course, we don't have to spread the Christmas love just through gifts! You can also do this with a random act of kindness. It could be something like helping clean around the house for Christmas guests, giving a distant relative a call, shoveling the snow for mom and dad, or cheering up a friend. Also, random kindness isn't limited to just being nice to the people you know. Buying a stranger their coffee, doing volunteer work at a homeless shelter, or helping someone carry their groceries to their car is great too!
These deeds can be anything ranging from holding the door to giving to the Salvation Army to writing a Christmas card for a solider. Acts of kindness can really brighten up someone's day who may not be as joyous during the Christmas season! It feels great to be humble, and who knows? Your good deeds can lead to something special in the end.
4. DON'T: Fret about how you spread the joy
Whether they are people walking by, a customer in line, or someone at work/school you don't really know, there are those who act like this. You go up to them and wish them a "Merry Christmas." Then they get offended and suggest you instead wish them a "Happy Holidays." Okay, so does that mean you should go the "PC" route and only say "Happy Holidays?" No, wait, some people get offended by that too! They tell you to only wish them a "Merry Christmas." As if you're supposed to know what every person celebrates. So I say, who cares? Let it go. If your good intention is to spread cheer and joy to others, then don't worry about how you say or do it. You can't make everyone happy, unfortunately.
And if you are one of those people who gets offended if someone says "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays" or vice versa, then congratulations! You found something to be negative about during a joyous time of the year for everyone.
So please, don't be that person.
5. DO: BEWARE OF ICE
NO! ANYTHING BUT THAT!
Actually, I'm talking about black ice, falling icicles, and those frozen patches on your doorstep. It is important to make sure you "ice proof" your home and be very careful driving in the cold. This goes not just for Christmas, but the whole winter. However, more people will be bustling about this time of the year, so you must be extra cautious. You don't want grandma slipping while walking out the door or having an icicle fall and break your glasses. And especially, you don't want to crash your car during a blizzard, lose consciousness, and wake up to this:
P.S. Careful of thin ice if you're going skating!
6. DON'T: Be a bad neighbor with the holiday spirit
Blasting Christmas music and decorating your house until the brightness burns your retinas is great! But if you got people next door who are trying to sleep, tone it down. Be respectful of your neighbors and avoid conflict. Even if they are jealous of your awesome looking house! Or they're a little sensitive to the light...
7. DO: PUT DOWN THE PHONE!
Seriously. You're sitting there hanging out with friend #1 while texting friend #2. But when you're hanging out with friend #2, you're texting friend #1! Whatever it is you're doing on your phone, it can wait. So no phones at the Christmas dinner table and no phones while reconnecting with relatives and friends. People already spent other holidays, dinner dates, and hangouts stuffed in their computer screens and posting on social media (which ironically makes you less social) this year. Challenge yourself, see how long you can last without looking at your phone. And that means no selfies either! Soon, maybe you'll be able to be away from your phone for extended periods of time year round. Remember, Christmas only comes once a year. You can't let it pass by, and you can't capture the moment. You have to live in the moment.
8. DON'T: Work TOO Much
Work is great. You need the money for gas, food, etc. In this case, you'll be using that work money for Christmas gifts. However, with the 25th coming up fast, you can afford to take at least one extra day off this season to spend a little more time with the family. Try to get the rest you deserve and don't overwork yourself. It's bad enough we have to deal with twice the traffic, shopping, and baking even more food for the family, right? I mean I barely survived Thanksgiving! So, please, rest up and try not to crash!
9. DO: Introduce kids to Santa, the right way!
So is Santa just a way to get your kids to behave better? Well... yeah it is. It is a lie that one day, every child will find out wasn't true. But I find myself respecting the illusion of Santa. The children you come across in life (your own kids, neighbors, siblings, cousins, etc.) should be told about Santa to inspire creativity that they can spread to their own children one day. Sooner or later though, we'll have to tell them the truth at the right age. It's a good way to help children deal with reality and changes to their beliefs.
Doug Walker (aka The Nostalgia Critic) did a fantastic editorial on the topic of lying about Santa and goes more into these aspects:
To add on to Walker's ideas, instead of using Santa as a means to get your kids to stop fighting or trashing the house, use it to help others.
You could use the promise of Santa's visit to motivate children to be thankful for what they have, perform random acts of kindness, and be kind to people. Help them along the way, and one day, presents won't matter so much. Soon these young minds will learn how good it can feel to spread good will to others and learn about being humble, not needing gifts for performing good deeds.
Also, don't get all pissy if your kids start crying during the Santa picture. They're just kids, and it's funny to look back on one day, when going through old photos.
10. DON'T: Complain about what you didn't get
Why should you be upset on Christmas? Trick question, you should never be upset. The only thing you should be upset with is if grandma does slip on the steps you forgot to "de-ice." If Santa messed up with your Christmas list but still got you some pretty nice gifts, don't whine. Christmas isn't about the presents, remember? It's what all of those TV specials have been trying to tell you. You should be happy with whatever you get. Appreciate those people who gave you those presents for their love and kindness. You'll recover if mom bought you the wrong colored iPad. Just enjoy it!
11. DO: Embrace Christmas
Like I said, you can't capture the moment in Christmas. No one needs to know where you are and what you're dong 24/7. Save the camera work for the family Christmas card. You got to live in the moment of Christmas. Deck the halls, wear ugly sweaters, make Christmas cookies, drink eggnog, have that Mariah Carey song on repeat! Snowing outside? Roads blocked? No problem. Perfect time to go sledding, make a snowman with the kids, or have a snowball fight. After all that, watch some Christmas specials, or "Elf" for another 50 times, by the fire. Go caroling, eat a ton of candy canes, whatever! There's so much Christmas fun that it's going to be selling merchandise and playing music in every store until February!
Okay, that's a little much... maybe. For those who do, celebrate Christmas however you want! Christmas traditions for you may be a lot different than they are for others. It could be over the top with decorations everywhere, or subtle with just the Christmas tree and no need to watch "Polar Express" again and again. And that's okay! Do it however you want. You embrace and celebrate Christmas in a way that has value to you, and that's what matters.
12. DON'T: Be a jerk
Just like the "Spongebob" song, don't be a jerk.It's Christmas!
Okay, so no one is perfect. We all get angry, annoyed, and just plain fed up with people. With that being said, Christmas is here for you to put aside the daily stresses and anger. Just be polite, be humble, be kind. Don't yell at the cashier if they're all out of the gift you were trying to buy. Don't give the waitress sass if she's busy with other tables and taking a while to get to you. Don't ignore customers looking for help at your job. Don't brag about being better than others. And don't bash on people who are sick of Christmas. Sometimes, it can be a little much! Not everyone celebrates the same thing you do.
Yes, you shouldn't do this at all at any point of the year, but what is Christmas about again? That's right. Putting yourself aside and thinking about others, giving them something that'll spread cheer and joy. Now it comes full circle. It's time, if you haven't already, to understand that fellow hard working people are also looking for a break this season. Know also that there is still suffering and pain all around the world. Know that on your worst days, there are people out there with their own problems who have it much worse.
While you may not be able to fix all of their problems and create a miracle, you can still show compassion for those less fortunate. This Christmas, hope better times will come their way. If you see someone down on their luck or unhappy, wish them a friendly season's greetings in a time this joyous. Just like a good deed, a kind spirit, and something as simple as a smile and a friendly hello can go a long way.
Have a safe and merry Christmas, everyone!