One look at my neighborhood, and I know that the Christmas season has come to an end. The lights are put away, the big blow-up Santa a couple doors down is deflated and sitting in its box until next year. The Christmas music on the local radio station has been replaced with today’s hits.
Yes, it is that time of year where we cozy into our homes and ride out the rest of the long, cold winter, hoping to survive with a bit of sanity.
Unfortunately, with the absence of the ambiance of Christmas, we often lose the attitude of Christmas. With the arrival of bills, our smiles turn to frowns. Our serving hearts turn to survival hearts as we hear our kids complain that they have nothing to do. (Oh, really? I could think of a few things like picking up the cereal you spilled all over the floor I just cleaned this morning). We begin to sink into depressive feelings as we look at the bare trees and the grey skies, wondering if winter will ever end.
Yet we don’t need to let the winter blues consume us. We can still recapture the holiday spirit and beat the winter blues. In my efforts to turn winter into something I look forward to each year, I have chosen to incorporate a few things into my life that I know will bring light to my days as well as others. I encourage you to try these as well.
1. Donate Items to a Local Charity
As we welcome new toys, clothes, and electronics in our homes, it is easier to let go of the some of the items we held onto before Christmas. Consider encouraging each family member to find a few items to donate. Not only will help you declutter your home, it will brighten someone else’s day when they receive it.
2. Give a Gift of Time to Service
Food kitchens, animal shelters, and other charities have a dramatic increase in volunteers around the holidays, but these year round providers need volunteers every day. What are you passionate about? If you love helping animals, think about walking dogs at the local shelter. If you are passionate about helping the needy, hand out winter coats and blankets on the coldest of days. The elderly would love to have your family join them for a game night at an assisted living facilities.
3. Invite Others into Your Home
We love to get together with friends and family over the Christmas season, but after that, we tend to huddle in our homes staring miserably out the window, praying for a warm day. Host a monthly dessert social, get your girlfriends together for a book club, or invite international students from a local university for dinner nights. Having people in your home keeps you from the loneliness of isolation.
4. Write Cards to Friends and Family
I love the Christmas season because my mailbox is full of cards from those I love. I cherish each card, and they warm my heart. Christmas isn’t the only season to send cards though. Think about sending notes in the mail to friends to let them know you are thinking about them. Include a favorite verse that makes you think of them.
5. Light a Candle and Decorate Your Home
I always feel a lump in my throat when we take down all of the Christmas decorations and put away the Christmas scents. It is still okay to light that peppermint candle and fill your home with the scents you love. We decorate our homes for fall and for Christmas, but we often don’t think to decorate them for winter. What can you put around your home to think more positively about the season of winter?
6. Fill Your Home with Music
Pandora is a favorite of mine. I enjoy setting it to a station that brings peace to my home. Play worship songs to start your day. How can you not smile when you hear Mandisa’s “Good Morning” song? For me, Celtic music is incredibly calming. When I need a moment to reset after breaking up the 100th fight between my kids or am doing a task I dislike, I put it on and suddenly that moment seems just a bit more bearable.
7. Spend Daily Time with the Lord
One of my favorite things about the Christmas season is that it is nearly impossible to feel far away from the Lord. With Advent season, we have daily reminders of God’s love and what He did for us through His Son. However, once Christmas is over and the effects of consumerism and exhaustion take their toll, we feel anything but close to Him. This year, make an effort to spend daily time with the Lord. The other items in the list can bring experiences of joy, but pure joy can only come from a true relationship with the Lord. Start your day with Him and bask in His glory, even if it is only for a few minutes before the kids run in with their demands.
Christmas isn’t the only time that we should have the opportunity to experience the incredible love and warmth of Christ. Despite the chilly temperatures and shortened days, we can still make our home and lives ones that reflect the brightness of the love of Jesus Christ.