Over the past few weeks, I have noticed a distinct change that others have vocalized over the holiday season. Whether from COVID-19 or lack of finances, there seems to be a definitive lack of holiday spirit in the air. I understand this completely, though I have not lost my sense of wonder towards this time of year.
This year’s Christmas celebration will be different from others. Aside from the fact that we will not be gathering at Mom’s house for Christmas Eve, this will be the first Christmas that our daughter will not be home to open gifts on Christmas morning. Rather than dwell on things that could potentially make me sad, I have decided instead to offer a few ways to help you all bring joy back to your holiday season.
As Buddy, the title character of the film Elf often stated, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!” While I am hesitant to sing “Jingle Bells” at the top of my lungs for fear of causing bleeding ears in all those who are within earshot, I would strongly suggest humming an upbeat song or two from your favorite holiday repertoire. Research has shown that singing boosts the immune system and releases endorphins into your bloodstream. You might feel silly, but I don’t know anyone who feels sad after a few rounds of “Deck the Halls” or “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel.”
If you are so inclined, do something nice for someone else. Gifts need not come from a store to have meaning. Bring up your neighbor’s garbage pail or hold the door for someone. If you can afford it, donate some food or personal care items to a local food pantry. Island Harvest in Bethpage is looking actively for nonperishable items for those with food insecurity. Offer a smile, give from your heart. Donating to others helps to trigger the reward center in your brain and can help you to feel happier.
Physical activity helps boost mood and can help you to find solutions to issues that you currently face. For example, a 10-minute walk in the neighborhood can boost your mood and increase your energy. Health benefits abound from a bit of exercise, even if you cannot stand for long periods of time. For example, chair yoga is wonderful for those with immobility issues. Chair yoga can help to improve overall strength and flexibility. It also helps to reduce stress. Any form of physical activity can help you to feel better. As Adriene Mischler of the YouTube channel “Yoga with Adriene” says, “A little goes a long way.”
Decorate something. Even if you cannot bake cookies this year or are unable to put up a tree by yourself, decorate something. I remember when I lived alone in a studio apartment. I worked evenings and nights and barely had enough energy to grocery shop weekly. However, I had a small houseplant beneath the window that begged for dressing. I placed a small tulle red ribbon around it and topped it with a bright gold star from the dollar store. While I did not have a Christmas tree, I DID have a Christmas plant. Sometimes, just one little activity is enough to boost the sourest of moods.
This year, we are all missing our families. We long to get together yet are hesitant to potentially bring our loved ones an awful “gift that keeps on giving.” While we are on those Zoom calls, we can still find ways to keep the spirit of the season bright. Gestures needn’t be grand and gigantic. As the saying goes, it is the little things that folks remember most. As you celebrate your holidays and look forward to a bright and shiny (and healthy) 2021, we can remember to do those little things. You would be surprised at how big they really are, and how much they mean to others.
I wish you all a blessed, happy and healthy holiday season. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and may you all be blessed with every good thing in the coming New Year.
Patty Servidio is an Anton Media Group columnist.