Looking for inspiration in toning down our holidays this year, I recently read Elaine St. James' Simplify Your Christmas: 100 Ways to Make Your Holidays Happier, Healthier and More Fun. Some of her 100 ideas were right on and others less so. For me, Ms. St. James' variation on the 12 Days of Christmas was a good one. It emphasizes community building and creating a true holiday spirit rather than consumerism and I've decided to try to give it a go this Christmas season.
The 12 Days of Meaningful Gifts goes something like this:
On the first day of Christmas, give up a grudge and try to reconcile with someone. (I know just who I'm going to call on this day!)
On the second day, brighten someone's life. Bring a co-worker coffee (reusable mugs, please), help out an elderly person, share some homemade goodies)
On the third day, help a neighbor. Bring in their trash cans, rake their yard, offer to watch their kids while they run an errand, or ask if you can pick up something for them at the grocery store.
On the fourth day, take the day off from nagging your children and spouse. This one will be a tough one for me! :)
On the fifth day, give the gift of goodwill and let someone cut in line in front of you, let someone over in traffic, etc.
On the sixth day, give your spare change to a homeless person or the Salvation Army outside of your grocery store.
On the seventh day, set aside five minutes and give blessings to the less fortunate.
On the eighth day, deliver necessities to an elderly shut in from "Santa."
On the ninth day, send an email or drop a note to someone who did something nice for you.
On the tenth day, smile at everyone you meet all day long.
On the eleventh day, volunteer somewhere - collect toys for Toys For Tots, serve lunch at an elder care center, go caroling.
On the twelfth day, pray for greener planet.