Christmas is filled with beautiful traditions making it a wonderful time of year.

It’s a Happy Time of Year

Yes, Christmas is a time of Christ for Christians, but Santa doesn’t take anything away from that. As author Thumpa Lahiri writes in her novel The Namesake, other holidays “can’t compare to Christmas, when they hang stockings on the fireplace mantel, and set out cookies and milk for Santa Claus, and receive heaps of presents, and stay home from school.” What can be better than that!

Some Cherished Traditions

  1. DECORATIONS Christmas decorations fill December with cheer. Nothing better than decorating our tree while listening to a favorite Christmas playlist. Whether your decorations are indoors or out, simple or complex, natural or totally hi tech, they provide tremendous delight for family, friends, and the casual passerby. If you’re out of decorating ideas, go full Clark Griswold. A whopping 25,000 lights were used in Chevy Chase’s National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) movie. This might be the option for you! If not, hanging up a single strand of lights works too.

2. COOKIES I don’t think there’s been a year at our house without Christmas cookies. As a child, I ate most of the gingerbread dough raw, without Mom knowing. Gingery dough was the most delicious thing. Of course, I’d flatten the top to cover up my crime but I’m sure mom noticed the decreasing height.

I now bake a few batches of gingerbread cookies, but prefer other recipes since my gingerbread never tastes as good as the raw dough I remembered. Maybe it was the stealth factor which made it extra tasty!

Cookie exchange amongst friends is also an excellent idea. You can easily double, triple, or quadruple your variety without the extra baking. Cookies are always a fun and thoughtful gift for neighbors, family, and friends.

3. CHRISTMAS SWEATERS Wearing goofy PJ pants and funky Christmas sweaters is a playful way to enjoy the holidays. Wear one to your office Christmas gathering or simply be comfy and lounge around the house. What could be more festive and cozy!

4 GIFT GIVING Generosity and gift giving are often extended as a gesture of friendship or love over the holidays.

To answer an often asked question, yes, if a gift you’ve received is beautiful, it is acceptable to re-gift it! Here’s an example. If you receive Toblerone chocolate, but you don’t eat chocolate, please feel free to re-gift it to me anytime! I will not be offended.

Photo by Magda Ehlers on

5. GINGERBREAD HOUSE Everyone can enjoy building a gingerbread house. Firstly, you can bake and build one from scratch. My Mom baked each wall, roof, and door while the kids tried to build a gingerbread castle without creating a demolition. Thankfully, we have easier options; buy a pre-packaged gingerbread kit and mortar the pieces together with icing. Voila! Either method is a challenge well worth undertaking… and eating!

Photo: Rachel Xiao

6. PARADES Christmas parades take place in most towns small and large. Kids love the floats, costumes, music, and of course Santa! If it’s a chilly day, one can always look forward to the après parade cup of hot cocoa!

7. TOY DRIVES and FOOD DRIVES Gift giving, toy and food drives are an awesome way to give to those in need. With rising inflation and food prices, helping re-stock food bank shelves is a beautiful holiday gift. Grocery stores often have convenient boxes set up just for this.

Toy drives are also held this time of year. Toys of all kinds are appreciated enabling moms and dads to put something under the tree for their little ones. Under privileged children often need items such as boots, mitts, and snow pants to keep them warm during the winter.

Think about organizing a food or toy drive in your community. Pick a shelter of your choice, ask them what the main needs are, and then set up your own collection at church, work, or other social setting. Getting in touch with participants on the giving and receiving ends definitely enrich your personal relationships.

Photo: T Gouw

8. PAYING IT FORWARD Spending an evening feeding the homeless at a local shelter is a beautiful way to help out the community. Serving or cooking up a holiday meal, together with other volunteers, will bring an abundance of joy to your family. Our children can be involved with small tasks such as filling water glasses or picking up the dirty dishes while they have a chance to connect with children who come in for the hot meal. Our daughter made friends with another little girl who came in for a meal. They actually exchanged little gifts which each other, touching all our hearts..

Volunteering at an elderly care home is another way to bring joy to those who might find themselves alone during this festive time.

Photo by Timur Weber on

9. MUSIC Christmas music is beautiful, enjoy it! I love Christmas music, enjoy the classics, and am pleasantly surprised by the new artists as well.

Keep in mind, for those who dare to belt out a few tunes (not me), there’s caroling as well.

Photo by Elina Fairytale on

10. MOVIES Some say the 1988 movie Die Hard is the best Christmas movie. I vote for It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). Either way, there are hundreds of Christmas movies to choose from. Enjoy a few this Christmas season.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Blessings for the New Year.