It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (9 Qualities That Make the Season Special)

November 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

What time of year is it? Winter time! Christmas time! The season of giving, hot chocolate and marshmallows, skiing holidays and warm mittens. Cozy.

Christmas is my favourite time of the year and it always has been. Many people feel similarly, and many people feel the opposite. But for those of us who love it, what makes it the most wonderful time of the year? What if it felt like the most wonderful time of the year all year round? Woah, there’s an idea.

Let’s look at the qualities that make this time of the year special. How can we incorporate those qualities into every day life?

1. It’s the season of giving. I love giving. I love finding gifts of people. I love happening upon something I see in a market and thinking, “This would be perfect for *insert name here*!” I love making the gifts special with beautiful wrapping paper and bows, and I love watching them open it and seeing their reaction. Throughout the year, I always seem to spot little trinkets that would be perfect for a certain someone. You don’t have to wait until a holiday to surprise someone. I am horrible at remembering birthdays, but I love to create a spontaneous surprise. Besides, there are so many gifts exchanged during the holidays. Show someone you’re thinking of them out of the blue. If you want to give in bigger ways, you can donate your time to non-profit and volunteer organizations all around the world. See the Wild is a great resource to search for volunteer opportunities based on your budget, where you want to go, what animals you want to see, etc.

2. Fireplaces, hot chocolate, warm pies, winter vegetables and snow! Snow if you are lucky enough to have a white Christmas, that is. Okay, these aren’t so much qualities as they are things, but important nonetheless.

3. Magic is in the air. I’m not ashamed to admit that I believed in Santa until I was 13 years old. I remember leaving carrots out in a bucket for the reindeer, and cookies and milk out for Santa for his midnight snack. We (my brother and I) would wake up to a few crumbs on the plate and the carrots nibbled away. What excitement! Some years we were lucky enough to even receive a letter from him! Oh, the joy. Santa is still in my heart and all around me during this time of the year. Never stop believing and dream what others would deem as impossible. Remove that word from your vocabulary, and everything will become achievable. You can make the magic in your life last forever if you keep dreaming and believe that anything is possible. Never stop believing in a perfect world, magical Dust, wizards, flying reindeer and dragons.

4. Nourish your family traditions. A good tradition is perfect for keeping your spirits up in the midst of the holiday hustle and bustle. Many people don’t enjoy the holidays because they only see how commercialized they have become. It’s all about money, money, money. Spending, spending, spending. Sometimes it’s okay to plead ignorance and stay focused on what makes the holidays special for you – not what the holidays have become to the consumer market. Traditions can be as normal as putting up a tree on the first of December or as unorthodox as watching Dogma on Christmas Eve.
My family traditions never fail to warm my snowy heart, and I plan to continue them my entire life (when my environment supports it).
Climbing up a mountain and through the snow to saw down a pine tree that we picked out, and taking turns sawing it down. Putting up the Christmas tree on December 1st. Celebrating St. Nicholas Day on December 6th, after leaving our shoes out the night before (if you aren’t familiar with the Norther European tradition, you can read about it here). Watching my two favourite holiday movies: A Muppet Christmas Carol and Santa and Pete. Making a gingerbread house from scratch. Making sugar cookies with Christmas cookie-cutters and decorating them. Leaving out milk and cookies for Santa, and carrots for the reindeer. Making breakfast before opening presents on Christmas Day. Santa always brought a bunch of snacks that we would eat throughout the day: clams, oysters, sardines, cheese, crackers, pickled herring… oh and lots of chocolate! – we never had a big turkey dinner. We would always receive calendars from him as well. Sure, you can get cheap calendars after January 1st, but traditions are traditions!

5. There is always something cooking. It’s a season of baking. Why? Pies, cookies, cakes… in other words, it’s the season of sugar. But there are still roasted squash and winter vegetables to enjoy on a healthier note. And soup! Warm and filling. The heavier vegetables (like squash) are meant to be grounding in the colder months of the year. Cooking and baking can be enjoyed all year round, catering to lighter fruits and vegetables as the weather gets warmer. They may not be warm and cozy, but they sure are refreshing.

6. Wintery love with someone special. Walks through the snow, warming each others heart.. and hands.Keeping each other warm, watching snowflakes fall, catching snowflakes on your tongue. Spinning around, falling over and making snow angels. Cuddling up with a good book with candles or a fireplace.

7. Reflect on the year past. Take time to be still and concentrate on everything you’ve accomplished in the past year. Make a social event out of it, with friends sharing the highlights of their year. It can be too easy to focus on the “what if’s…” or “I should’ve’s…” but let yourself shine! Be proud of everything that has happened. You have gone through a lot of change in the past year and most of it was probably positive. You may have learned something new, discovered something about yourself, changed jobs, quit a job, had your first job. Whatever has happened, you’ve been strong enough to keep pushing yourself forward to today. It’s soon to be a new year and you can start fresh. If you have anything holding you back, you can do a small ritual to banish the negative energy: write things you want to forget about onto pieces of paper, do a small meditation, and burn them over a candle. You can’t light fire to everything in your life though; make sure that you have faced those things and dealt with them the best you can first.

8. Bring nature into the home. Pinecones, pine needles, mistletoe, holly. Wreaths and garlands of leaves and berries can be found inside and outside. The smell of pine fills living rooms with a fresh Christmas tree. Being in touch with nature is good for the soul, so why don’t we keep seasonal plants in the house all year round? Some of us do, with flowers and simple house plants. But we can take steps to create something beautiful every time of the year. You can turn nature into a craft (there are many different project ideas on Pinterest). In autumn  you can create a beautiful squash centerpiece surrounded with scattered dried leaves. Summer and spring are a good time for different flowers that can brighten up the house and be a symbol of growth.

9. Spend time with family and friends. I asked my friends what makes the winter holiday season special for them and the most common answer was being around family and friends. This especially rings true if you have moved away from your home, or never even lived near family. When everyone comes together, it can be a time of joy and memories when everyone reflects on the new changes in their lives. Of course, no family is perfect and there are many stories around the holidays about family disagreements and problems arising. If you have one of those families, focus on staying present. Be here and now, and love them for their good qualities. Remember that the holidays are temporary, and you’ll be back to your normal life in no time. You even have the power to choose if you see your family the following year. Each moment belongs to you, so make it that happiest that you can.

What is your favourite part of the holidays? And what are some quirky or normal traditions you celebrate each year?

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