As I write this post, it is a few days before Christmas. For many people, the entire focus of the past month has been on preparing for that day as the culmination of the season. Often they start the hustle and bustle the day after Thanksgiving – shopping, decorating social events, etc. Then by the day or so after Christmas or at least before New Year’s Eve, it’s all over. Decorations down, focus on recuperation and the coming “return to routine.” Expand December holiday time? Perhaps that idea would not be welcome for them. However, I suggest considering some alternatives to try this year, or plan for next year.
I prefer to observe the 12 Days of Christmas which for centuries have been a time of celebration – starting with December 25 and ending on the evening of January 5. In some cultures, January 5 is called the Twelfth Night and is an occasion for feasting; a King’s Cake/3 Kings Cake is part of the celebration in various countries. Those variations are described in detail here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_cake
January 6 is observed as Epiphany or 3 Kings Day in many cultures of the world and many Christians observe Epiphany season from then up until Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. It is a season of light/manifestation/showing forth/revelation. It’s a great theme to explore and a season to launch the new year under the umbrella of this imagery.
Other December Holidays
Others observe the pan-African holiday Kwanzaa from December 26 to January 1, celebrating family, community and culture. Each of the days of the celebration is dedicated to one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa: unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba), and faith (imani).
The Jewish holiday, Hanukkah, follows a lunar calendar so the dates vary, but in 2021 it is from sundown on November 28 through sundown on December 6. This whole period of time includes a variety of celebrations that we can learn about and from, especially if they are from a different culture or group.
Ideas for the Time After Christmas
What if we extend December holiday activities by planning to do some simple things that demonstrated care and love to others? The time after Christmas and especially after New Years Day is often a time of let-down, of sadness and loneliness for people – perhaps you and people you know. The energy and push of the previous month is over, the days are still short and winter weather prevails.
Here are a few suggestions to extend the December holiday spirit for you and others. You may need to be adapt in some ways to keep everyone as safe as possible during the continuing pandemic:
1. Engage with an elderly person. The holidays can be tough for bedridden and nursing home-bound individuals. Bring love to those who need it most. Show up with books or magazines, do a crossword or puzzle together, sing songs or even just sit quietly and be a good listener.
2. Share a cup of cheer. Here’s a simple gesture to offer – surprise someone you love with a hot beverage. Coffee, tea, cocoa or chai, whatever their pleasure. Invite them to you home or to meet at a restaurant or coffee shop for relaxed time together.
3. Help someone who is struggling. If you live where winter includes cold and snow, there are likely people near you who could use some help managing. It may be keeping sidewalks and driveways clear. Or perhaps the elements are keeping them inside and isolated. A visit and a treat – cookies, a loaf of sweet bread, etc. – can be a real boost.
4. Get together with grandparents. After the group gatherings of the holidays, January can be very lonely. Make a visit, take them out for lunch or a movie or some other activity that will be enjoyable and give you a quieter time to be together.
5. During these coldest times of the year, there are people in need of warm hats, scarves or mittens. Check with a school or homeless shelter. You could knit or crochet and item or two individually or have a gathering of a few friends to make some items. If you aren’t crafty or don’t have time to do that, find some cozy things at the store and share them.
6. Remember those who have had tough holidays because of a breakup, the loss of loved ones, family conflict or other factors. Making contact and perhaps spending a little time with them, even on the phone, can be a boost. It’s a reminder that people remember and care.
If you are one who experiences down time, even depression, after the holidays, doing one or more of these or similar things can give you a sense of purpose as well as help someone else. A win-win situation for sure!
In your own home, consider the winter months as a great time to practice the principles of Hygge. I’ve written about that here: https://carolbrusegar.com/hygge-holiday-season-and-winter/
And here’s another suggestion: read some uplifting books that may have holiday/Christmas themes through the coming weeks. The season can be as long as you want it to be in your own life!! Check out the huge number of holiday books in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series:
I’m Carol Brusegar, author, photographer and curator of information. My focus is on gathering and writing on topics that enhance all our lives – regardless of our age. Topics include health and wellness, personal development, innovation and creativity, and a variety of helpful, practical tools and practices. I have a special interest in helping people over 50 years of age to create their 3rd Age – the next stage of their lives – to be the best it can be.