The holiday season is upon us, and as an adult, I’ve found that cozy, Christmasy feeling is more elusive than ever. With end-of-the-year deadlines, multiple family gatherings to coordinate, school and work schedules, and general holiday busyness, it’s difficult to stay present and make meaningful connections with others during what is often the most hectic time of the year.
As a very community-oriented person with a deep need for connection and friendship, I find the month of December can easily leave me feeling depleted rather than full of warmth and coziness. Over the past few years, I’ve made a conscious effort to stay connected to my closest friends and family, and sometimes, even get a hint of that childhood Christmas magic in the meantime. Here’s how you can stay connected with those you care about this season.
Embrace local traditions
What does your town or city do during the holidays that makes it feel like Christmas? I live in Albuquerque, NM, a very old city that has a Christmas tree lighting celebration in their historic town square. The shops open their doors and everyone strolls around drinking Mexican hot cocoa, checking out the farolitos (a local tradition of setting out brown paper bags lit from the inside with candles or lights), and listening to local choirs and mariachi bands perform Christmas music. It’s a fun way to get together with friends while also supporting our local economy and music scene.
Whatever events are happening in your town that bring your community together might seem more fun and more Christmassy if you invite friends, bundle up, and head out together! I often check local newspaper and TV news station websites and community social media accounts to see what might be going on where I live.
A book for me, a book for you
I’m a practicing Christian, so to me, December means Advent — the time of year that we wait for Christ to come. Though it’s a merry time in the stores and on TV, Advent has a somewhat different feeling, full of longing and anticipation.
For the past three years. I’ve purchased a special Advent devotional book for myself and a few close friends, and I get up early every morning to study, reflect and pray in silence. It helps to sit near the warmly lit Christmas tree and have a cup of coffee in hand.
My friends and I don’t necessarily read the book together, but we check in with each other via text and sometimes phone about what we’re learning and how the early morning study is going. If we can squeeze in some actual time together during the season, that’s even better. Often this looks like walks or dinners after work and other holiday commitments. I really enjoy the morning solitude, especially knowing that my dearest friends are also up early, studying the same thing I am.
Revisit a childhood tradition
One of my aunts used to hold an annual gingerbread house-making party for all of the cousins. It’s a bright spot in my memories of the holidays, all of us cousins sitting around jamming as much candy as possible onto our paper plates that held our precarious-looking homemade houses.
My own kids are around the same ages as I was when that tradition began, and I’ve decided to keep it going. I don’t live near any of those cousins today, but as my kids, their cousins, and friends shove handfuls of candy onto their creations, I can’t help but smile as I think of them carrying on such a beloved event from our childhoods.
Check out a concert or two
I’m a classically trained singer, and I sing with a wonderful choir year-round, but Christmastime is our biggest time of year for concerts. I love to invite family and friends to come to our performances, and then go out for a quick bite afterwards. As a musician, I also love to check out what other ensembles are doing this time of year, and listening to excellent Christmas music being performed live always gets me in the holiday spirit. It’s another great excuse to dress up in my Christmas-best and invite friends along to enjoy something different with me.