Giving Meaning to the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
It’s the most wonderful time of the year / There’ll be much mistletoeing / And hearts will be glowing / When loved ones are near / It’s the most wonderful time / Yes the most wonderful time / Oh the most wonderful time / Of the year.
The familiar holiday tune recalls fond memories of past Christmases, and even now certain smells, snippets of music, or even watching snow falling can rekindle moments in time when we felt especially loved and cherished.
Some of us eagerly await the holidays and all the familiar traditions, anticipating get-togethers with family and friends, good food, gift giving and other special memories. Others may find the holidays difficult and find themselves anxious or sad, especially if they live far away from family or have lost dear family and friends they used to celebrate with.
Enjoying the season often comes down to our thoughts and attitudes. To make the holidays more meaningful and lean into “the most wonderful time of the year,” consider these suggestions:
- Change Your Expectations: Instead of focusing on the “shoulds” — that the holidays should be celebrated in a particular way with foods, decorations and other traditions or that you should feel merry and upbeat because it’s Christmas — give yourself permission to drop these expectations and instead find simple enjoyment in each day. That could be watching birds come to your feeder, donning warm mittens when you take a walk, or watching a favorite movie that has nothing to do with the holidays but always makes you laugh. Releasing expectations may help you enjoy the holiday season more.
- Start A New Tradition: Tradition is a wonderful thing, until it becomes a burden. Instead of holding on to traditions that no longer have meaning in your life, think about ways to start new ones. If you’re far from family, for instance, you might invite a couple of neighbors in for hot chocolate and snacks one evening. If you’ll be celebrating with loved ones begin a new tradition of taking a group photo of the family; include several poses, especially a silly one. Or check out the Giving Trees at various locations around the region and purchase gifts for children who might otherwise have a meager Christmas.
- Remember Loved Ones: Instead of getting bogged down in sad thoughts of those who are no longer with us, celebrate their lives by joining family and friends at their favorite restaurant or cooking a meal in your home and raising a glass in their memory and sharing your favorite stories about them.
- Cultivate Gratitude: Be grateful for what you have rather than bemoaning what you don’t. Write down three things each day that you are grateful for or recall something you are grateful for as you begin a meal. Over time, cultivating gratitude can boost your spirits by changing your perspective.
- Give from the Heart: It’s lovely and thoughtful to be able to exchange gifts with loved ones, but often it’s more meaningful to tell the person how much you appreciate them. Giving a person a sincere compliment or offering a smile to a stranger ups the joy factor for both of you especially during the holidays.
Whatever you do and however you celebrate, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful and meaningful holiday season!
Shannon Lynch is the Executive Director of The Morrison Communities, which includes the Morrison Skilled Nursing Facility, Sartwell Place Assisted Living, Morrison Rehabilitation, and Summit by Morrison, a senior living community offering independent living, assisted living, memory care and respite care.
The Morrison Communities is a non-profit 501©(3) charitable community that has been providing quality healthcare to residents of New Hampshire’s North Country since 1903.