I’m a dreamer and a big believer in the thought of Christmas.
2 years ago I flew my family, and extended family, to Kauai for Christmas. It was an incredible trip spent at the home of one of our dearest friends. Christmas Eve we found ourselves singing carols on the beach at Poipou while flying a kite in the warm weather, kids splashing in the water, and then attending the most amazing Hawaiian non-denominational church service in celebration of the night. It was so special.
Christmas morning the kids came rushing in to the living room and gathered around the little plastic white tree we had purchased at Walmart, only to find an unsuitable amount of presents to open. Quickly our wonderful trip turned sour at the expectations they had for what Christmas was in their minds.
“Where are all the presents?”
“I thought it was Christmas morning!”
“I miss being home, I don’t like Christmas without snow. When can we go home?”
Now I became incensed and offended, by little 4, 8, 9 & 10 year olds who obviously didn’t appreciate that I just spent the rest of our life savings on a trip I hoped they’d never forget!
That trip, for me, was the most wonderful Christmas memory I have as a father, and equally the most disappointing, because they were disappointed.
And yet now, 2 years later, it is also their most memorable and favorite Christmas memory, and I believe will be that forever more.
As the Christmas cheer and holiday spirit flows through us while wandering the isles of the stores in search of gifts for our little ones, the charm of Christmas, the thought of what it ought to be like, is quickly replaced by disappointment due to the missing toys on poorly stocked shelves, the traffic that somehow doubled even when it’s snowing outside, the annual inversion that blankets your city with smog, and don’t get me started on the horrific attempts at seasonal Candy Cane milkshakes at the local fast food place!
In my Keynote presentations for large corporate events, I call this “The Commercial vs. The Reality”, and it’s definition when it comes to Christmas is very fascinating.
I dare say nearly 80% of what you thought would be a good idea, an awesome plan, a reaction from a loved one, is often not met with the same level of joy you were expecting. And the other 20% must involve a diamond ring.
Christmas in that sense is a total letdown.
I’m not saying we should lessen our expectations, rather we should find a greater meaning in Christmas and create the reality we can control.
Here are some ideas to add new meaning to Christmas and the Holidays:
- Savor & Nurture Traditions – get a tree as a family; visit a live nativity; welcome the Elf on the Shelf to your home; try your best to remember what your obligation is when committing to the Elf on the Shelf; do your best to consistently enjoy an Advent Calendar
- Serve – find a family in need and figure out ways to bless their lives, money isn’t the only way, it can be a text asking how they are, having their son come by to play with your kids, inviting them to the neighborhood Christmas party at the church
- Give – instead of pretending to shuffle through your pockets as you enter the store and avoid making eye contact with the Salvation Army bell ringer, carry some extra change this year that is dedicated to contributing something; take time to write a special note to a friend who has just lost a loved one; give your time to a cause that means something special to you (we focus on the homeless and make warm care packages for them during this cold time of year)
- Smile – look at the waiter and smile when ordering; walk with eyes up in the halls at school, church, or business with the intention of catching eyes with the person passing while you give a smile; offer a smile and friendly wave to the person who just butted in line at carpool; slow down to let someone in the lane with their blinker on
These may sound almost too simple. And yet, imagine if everyone did them?
The meaning of Christmas comes down to what you decide to make of this time of year. There will be moments where you feel letdown, but those can be outweighed by promising yourself to do any ideas listed above, since the secret is this:
Christmas is not about us, it’s about everyone else.
How can you make it the best Holiday Season and Christmas ever for your family, friends, loved ones, and even strangers? Make it about them.
Jason Hewlett, CSP (Certified Speaking Professional), CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame, is a Keynote Speaker for the largest corporate events in the world. His primary message, The Promise, is essential for Leadership, Management, Sales, Marketing, Direct-Sales Companies, and is a combination of engagement and entertainment meets inspiration. Jason has even received standing ovations from IT guys. He has been acknowledged as life-changing by Conference Attendees, C-Level Executives and Hollywood Elite. jasonhewlett.com
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