The Art of Manliness has put up a list of ways to help get you into the holiday spirit. You can read all their reasonings by following through on the link, but I’ll sum them up here.
I don’t know if there’s anything distinctly manly about the holiday season, but I do know that I’ve always really admired men who truly get into it. The men who don red vests and cheesy sweaters, who put up elaborate light displays and put on Santa suits, the ones who delight in finding just the right gift for people, and who just seem….jolly. Their eyes have that unmistakable twinkle of a man who hasn’t given up on the idea of magic.
These men understand that while you have to grow up, it’s important to maintain a sense of wonder about the world and its possibilities. That in a cynical age, it’s okay to let go sometimes and tap into our less jaded selves.
So if your holiday spirit-o-meter has been running low, here are 11 steps to letting in the sights, sounds, and tastes of Christmas and getting into the holiday spirit.
1. Turn on the holiday tunes.
I completely agree with this one. Listening to them a lot really does help me recognize what season it is. I agree with TAOM that it has to be good Christmas music, though. Charlie Brown Christmas by The Vince Guaraldi Trio and Christmas with The Rat Pack are two of my favorites.
2. Watch some old Christmas cartoons.
This can help. Trish and I were feeling a little un-Christmas-y the other day, and one of the things we did in the evening was to sit down and watch the old Charlie Brown Christmas television special. I don’t think that T.V. is the best way to get into the spirit, though.
3. Make some hot chocolate or eggnog.
Food is always a great way to define your seasons; restaurants have been doing it for a long time with seasonal offerings. Things like hot chocolate and eggnog definitely can help. I like to do things like peppermint mochas and eggnog lattes for December. Foods that you keep for one time of year and put effort in to bring them out each year will always help you get into the season.
4. Throw a holiday party.
This one is tricky. A really good Christmas party can help move you closer to the Christmas feeling, but if it’s not done just right, it’ll be no different than any other party. If you go all in as a host and do everything like decorate and make seasonal food and use seasonal music, it might just be the kick in the pants you need to get on all those other things you can do to get in the spirit.
5. Watch a Christmas movie.
I’d say that this is very similar to watching a Christmas cartoon. They can help, though, and for those nights where it’s too cold to go anywhere, curling up on the couch by yourself or with a loved one and watching something like It’s A Wonderful Life certainly can’t hurt your spirits.
6. Read some Christmas classics.
Another great way to get into the spirit. Reading through Christmas stories can really help you embrace the season a lot. Things like A Christmas Carol, The Polar Express, A Night Before Christmas can help a lot. Trish and I are taking it one step further by shifting our nightly bible readings to John’s gospel and going through the Christ story. For me, sometimes being reminded of why we should look forward to something helps me look forward to it a lot more.
7. Look at Christmas lights.
I really like Christmas lights. It’s a marker for the season that we don’t have any other time of year, and there’s always something beautiful about lights. Get out and go look at some. I remember in Edmonton there was Candy Cane Lane and the displays down at Hawrelak Park. Here in Winnipeg I’ve heard that the Lindenwood Area has good displays, as well as an organized display of Christmas lights at the Red River Ex Grounds. I find this to be a great way to do it, especially if you get your loved ones or friends together, as it’s a special outing to go do, and you get to spend time with each other and share in an experience.
8. Put up a tree.
This is also a great suggestion. For lack of a real Christmas tree this year (since our landlord won’t really let us have a real tree because we’ll certainly burn down the building), Trish and I spent the other day putting up some lights and decorating our hibiscus tree. I love hanging glass balls and putting lights on things. The decorations and lights also have the bonus of not only being pretty to look at, but I find they also offer a warmth to the space they’re in, which is great with the frigid temperatures outside.
9. Plan a holiday-themed date.
This is a great idea. I feel bad about it, but I never seem to be able to come up with the ideas or time to do this. Maybe this year…if not, next year for sure. Definitely a great idea and one I’d like to embrace more. Where in Winnipeg can I take a girl on a sleigh ride?
10. Go see A Christmas Carol as a play.
I did this once and I’d love to do it again. It really is a great story. A lot of people also suggest The Nutcracker. Live theater during the holidays is always a great experience and I highly recommend it.
11. Do Service.
This is always a great thing to do. Ultimately, one of the biggest focuses of Christmas is to pay attention to those who are less fortunate than so many of us. Ultimately, it would be fantastic if people’s attention to social issues would continue past Christmas Eve and throughout the whole year, but it’s encouraging to see that people at least spend some time realizing the need for those of us to have, to give. Give your time, your money, your food, your clothes, your whatever you have a little this Christmas, and you’ll get a little closer.
A few other things Trish and I are doing this year to help celebrate the season include moving the various people and animals in from our Nativity set around the house each week, telling the Christmas story through their placements. We both agree that decorating and doing things like making cookies and biscotti and special drinks and those kinds of things do help and can be a whole bunch of fun. Remember that one of the best things you can do is to include others in doing any of these things. People in your family, your loved one, your friends, others you know that don’t have a family around that might have a hard time being alone during the season; invite others in to share in these activities with you. Spend time with people, do fun activities that mark the time of year, and don’t get caught up in shopping. Gifts are part of it, for sure, but most people will remember the things you do, not the things you get.