Make Your Christmas More Meaningful

Aaron Burden

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is a few days away. I have been busy but not SO busy that I forget the reason for the season. There are many wonderful sights and sounds during the holidays and it is easy to get caught up in it all- the quest for perfect presents, home holiday decor, parties, cookie recipes, you name it.

Heidi Sandstrom

This holiday, I want to challenge you to think about Christmas differently. Think about it other than presents, alcoholic beverages, and a zillion cookies. To help you, I’m going to share my favorite things about the holiday. This is in the hopes that you will go deeper into your heart and look beyond the tangible into the intangible. And, I’m hoping you will share your favorite enriching experiences with me so I can open my gratitude circle even wider.

  1. Giving. This is the biggest charitable season of all. I try to support my church’s ministries and be as generous as I can afford to be. When my kids were little we rolled up dollar bills and put them in the Salvation Army buckets. We didn’t have much back then but we gave a little every chance we could. I’ll bet you my adult kids still put dollar bills in SA buckets.
  2. Friends. I’ve had numerous opportunities to spend extra time with friends. We do this anyway but at the holiday season it is even more meaningful. The food and presents are nice, but what I really enjoy is quality time and unconditional love.
  3. My family. I took my mom to see The Nutcracker a couple of weeks ago. It was a bit challenging but the Benedum staff (Thanks Steve!) was wonderful. We enjoyed the ballet and I think my mom absolutely loved the experience. I am looking forward to Christmas Eve and Day when I am with many of my family.
  4. Church. My church service and our choir is so beautiful all the time but I especially love the whole experience at Christmas. We had our holiday program recently and all the young ones sang. They sounded like little angels! Church is one of the best ways to experience unity with the reason for the season.
  5. Children. We took Penny to the Christmas Light Up in Clinton, PA.  and it was enchanting. If you want to have a great experience, take a small child to a Christmas event. Sit back and say very little; watch their faces glow. This is why we need to give young ones the gift of our time and energies. Just for things like this.
Mom and I at The Nutcracker

This is a season of love and gratitude. It is easy to get caught up in the stress of the holidays so remember, easy does it. Go for experiences, not necessarily material possessions, and remember to be generous with those less fortunate. This will transform the holidays for you.

What is your most meaningful Christmas or holiday tradition? I’d love to hear from you. Merry Christmas!

 

 

Join me on my graceful journey.
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Everything is Bigger at Christmas

Aaron Burden

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is only one week away. I have been busy but not SO busy that I forget the reason for the season. There are many wonderful sights and sounds during the holidays and it is easy to get caught up in it all- the quest for the perfect presents, home holiday decor, cookie recipes, you name it.

I went shopping with a friend the other day and in every store we went into, the gift ideas were overwhelming. It was all about the red and green and white and lovely and sparkly. It was clothes, jewelry, perfume, gift wrap, slippers, purses….I could go on and on. It was hard to reign myself in but I did stick to my budget pretty well. It was a tough challenge.

Heidi Sandstrom

So many things are bigger at Christmas. I wanted to take a few minutes to share what I think is the better of the bigger. I hope you share your favorite thing(s) with me in either the comment section or on my Facebook page.

  1. The trees are bigger. I love big trees and I was lucky enough to see The Nutcracker at the Benedum Center this year. The concert hall is beautiful enough to begin with but add a tree, big red ribbons, and musicians and it gets downright gorgeous. I basked in the light of the tree and then in the amazing ballet. I took my mom with me and I’m sure this will be a memory for years to come.
  2. Our hearts are bigger. This is the biggest giving season of all. Don’t forget to write a check to your church or favorite charity. If it’s not in your budget, do some acts of loving kindness. Donate the stuff you no longer wear to the nearest shelter, serve dinner at the soup kitchen, help a neighbor by shoveling his/her driveway.
  3. Expectations are bigger. This is the one thing I try to keep in perspective. It gets easier as I get older. Material things do not hold that much meaning for me any longer. I temper my expectations to allow that everyone is busy, overwhelmed, and tired. I make the effort to love everyone for who they are and not what I think they should be. I keep the focus on love and the reason for the season and I’m a much happier person.
  4. Appetites are bigger. There’s so many good parties with sweets and food. It’s such a temptation. I read those “How to Eat Less at your Office Party” articles but the fact is, I don’t feel good when I overeat. I don’t want to get carried away so I do my best to temper my intake. I save my appetite for those things that I truly want and that’s my splurge. Let’s hope I can keep this attitude. 😉
  5. We miss our departed loved ones bigger. I miss my dad, grandparents, church friends, good friends who I’ve lost. I light my prayer candle almost every day and remember them often. I cannot bring them back but I know they would want me to keep going, keep loving, and keep them in my heart. That’s what I try and do.

I wrote a post for the Orthodox Christian Network this week and it’s up. Click HERE for the link. I wrote about St. Nicholas and I talked about my grandfather (who was named Nicholas) and it brought back so many memories of him. I can see him in his backyard walking or tending his huge gardenia plant in the sunroom. I can hear him chuckling over his favorite tv shows and I can feel the warmth of his hugs. I read my post to my mom and she loved it. We were in heaven over the picture of her parents. I’m almost certain that photo was taken the night before or the day of my wedding. What a wonderful ordinary into extraordinary moment this was for both me and my mom.

Keep your heart in the right place and this Christmas will be a good one. This post dedicated to Alex – May your memory be eternal. 

Heinz Hall- Even the chandelier is gorgeous!
Heinz Hall chandelier- You are the Light of the World
Join me on my graceful journey.
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