It’s Christmas time!
Five ways to have a magical Christmas!
Find your Christmas spirit!
It’s December, which means Christmas is back again. What makes a good Christmas? As a child in the 90s, I would have said having no school, playing in the snow, seeing my family, and getting a new toy I really wanted. Nowadays, I view Christmas slightly differently, but it’s still a special time of year. Regardless of your age, ethnicity, religion, or your shopping spirit, there are a few steadfast(1) ways to have an amazing Christmas.
Oh, That Magic Feeling
There is this magical warm and fuzzy(2) feeling that appears around Christmas time. It’s impossible to explain, but it unmistakably returns every year to warm our souls.
For me, it was always hearing the music, seeing snow on the ground, and enjoying the positive energy that seemed to affect even the grumpiest of people. People smile more, they go out more, and the whole month just feels like a return to a simpler time, where stress and worries can be tossed out the window.
Even if it’s just for a few weeks, soak up the Christmas vibes. Go look at some Christmas lights, listen to some Michael Bublé, and have a delicious glass of mulled wine with your friend or partner.
I’ve had a lot of amazing Christmas experiences, but I was surprised that Christmas still felt like Christmas when I moved to South Korea in 2014. I was a teacher, so I made a lot of Christmas crafts with my students and even taught them to sing “Let it Snow.”
Teachers had a week off for Christmas, so my friends and I all had a really nice party with food, wine, and a small gift exchange. Overall, it was a memorable and cheerful Christmas.
Spending Time with Loved Ones
Christmas need not be a fancy affair. You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars or travel far away. The core of Christmas is about spending time with those who are important to you. That could be family, friends, partners, or even strangers. (This is a great time of year to volunteer or help those in need.)
I always had a family gathering on Christmas Eve and then spent Christmas with my more immediate family and friends. At the end of the day, I remember the time I spent with my loved ones more than most of the gifts I received on Christmas.
My family always met at my grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve. My grandmother cooked a new dish every year, and we ended the night with a gift exchange(3) around the Christmas tree.
It was a good chance to see aunts and uncles I didn’t get to see often, and we often played music, played games, and talked for many hours. Everyone got a chance to share stories about their lives and their memories.
Yummy Food and Merriment
Merriment(4) is the word that puts the “merry” in “Merry Christmas.” Christmas should be fun—a time of happiness and celebration. Grab that extra piece of pie or that second glass of wine and don’t feel guilty. Some Christmas staples in the U.S. include potatoes, pie, chestnuts, turkey, mulled wine, and eggnog(5).
You don’t necessarily need to party. You can relax with some special people and some delicious food and let yourself go.
Our family ate different food each year, so I wasn’t used to eating any one traditional dish per se. My grandmother was especially good at making desserts, so you could be sure there would be a delicious pie or cake after Christmas dinner.
I used to play guitar a lot, so I would play with my uncle. On top of that, I always liked to have a couple of high-quality beers at Christmas (especially since I don’t actually like eggnog).
Carols and Flicks
Some people dislike Christmas music, and I do admit that some places play it way too early (after Halloween). However, Christmas carols are a traditional part of Christmas that should not be missed. You can sing with a choir(6) outside, play music with your family and friends, or just listen to some Christmas music as you go about your business.
I don’t love every Christmas movie, but there are some good ones, and watching one or two in December can make the holiday atmosphere come to life. This is especially true if you are somewhere Christmas isn’t really celebrated.
I come from New England, where we usually have a white Christmas with snow on the ground. I always liked going downtown, where we have cobblestone(7) roads, snowy streets, and old-timey horses and carriages.
There were always lots of carolers in the streets, and it just felt like Christmas all over the city. The old Victorian buildings and snow made it feel even more magical.
Giving & Receiving Gifts
Christmas is a time for giving. Yes, getting gifts can be very special, but giving feels really nice too. You don’t need to spend a lot of money. You can make a homemade card, make/buy a Christmas craft–there tends to be all kinds of handmade markets around Christmas time–or get that special someone something they have wanted but haven’t had the money to buy.
I took the time to package some stuff from Taiwan a couple years ago, things that my friends and family couldn’t find in the States. They included food items, trinkets(8), and cultural items. I had a lot of fun finding all of it and shipping it to my friends and family without any of them expecting it.
I also remember getting my PlayStation (one) as a ten-year-old boy. I wanted one for two years, so I nearly lost my mind when I opened that box and saw the PlayStation logo, and I played that thing to death for the next three years.
Christmas is a mishmash of many older holidays and traditions, so it makes sense that there are so many ways to celebrate it. These are just my five picks, but there are certainly many more. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone!
1. steadfast (adj.)
Def. resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering
Ex. Santa was steadfast in having all the presents packed in his sleigh by December 23rd.
2. warm and fuzzy (phr.)
Def. used to refer to a sentimentally emotional response or something designed to evoke such a response
Ex. Seeing “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” for the first time in twenty years made me feel warm and fuzzy.
3. exchange (n.)
Def. an act of giving one thing and receiving another (especially of the same kind) in return
Ex. My office is doing a gift exchange this year, so everyone will get a gift from someone else.
4. merriment (n.)
Def. happiness and fun
Ex. My mom drank wine and sang songs on Christmas Eve. The merriment didn’t end until almost midnight.
5. eggnog (n.)
Def. a drink made of eggs, milk or cream, sugar, and, usually, rum or wine
Ex. My brother never drinks, so he prefers his eggnog without alcohol.
6. choir (n.)
Def. an organized group of singers, especially one that takes part in church services or performs in public
Ex. The choir had 24 members. Their version of “Silent Night” was the best I have ever heard.
7. cobblestone (n.)
Def. a naturally rounded stone, larger than a pebble and smaller than a boulder, formerly used in paving
Ex. New England still uses a lot of cobblestones, giving its cities an older, more beautiful aesthetic.
8. trinket (n.)
Def. a small ornament, piece of jewelry, etc., usually of little value
Ex. My mom always liked finding trinkets to put in our stockings at Christmas time.