Now and future ways we try to make Christmas a little holier, sweeter, and merrier at our house:
1) Never leave a shopping cart in some random area of the parking lot. Take it back to the store -- who couldn't use that little bit of exercise? -- or, at least, put it in the cart return. Wandering shopping carts, whether in herds or solo ramblers, are a pain to other shoppers and the store's employees. (Okay, I do this all year long -- but if more people did it a Christmastime, wouldn't that be great?)
2) Buy a Salvation Army bell-ringer a hot cup of coffee or hot cocoa. Thank them for volunteering (most of them are volunteers out there in the freezing cold). Give them some money -- it doesn't have to be a lot.
3) Shop neatly. Put books back on the shelves at bookstores. Refold sweaters at department stores. Never, for crying out loud, leave refrigerated items that you've changed your mind on in the middle of dry-good aisles at the grocery store! Busy employees really notice and appreciate this.
4) Donate to Toys for Tots, or some other organization that puts toys in the hands of disadvantaged children at Christmas. If you have kids, let them pick out what toys to donate.
5) Go to candlelit Christmas Eve services at church.
6) Go caroling in your neighborhood. Invite your neighbors to come along as you progress. (I've never tried this one before, but I plan on giving it a go this year.)
7) Read aloud the Christmas chapters from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books. Remember a time when kids were thrilled to get mittens, an orange and two pieces of candy for Christmas.
8) Bake cookies. Eat lots of cookie dough.
9) Wear red and green together as much as possible in December. Wear a Santa hat!
10) Tip people who do not normally get tips; e.g. fast food workers, retail employees, your UPS and USPS delivery men, etc.
11) Volunteer in some way at your local Union Gospel Mission. (I have yet to do this, too; but, I really want to do it next year, instead of simply making a monetary donation.)
12) Tell everyone, "Merry Christmas!" Avoid the insipid, "Happy Holidays!" as much as possible.
13) Watch Christmas movies: A Christmas Story, Christmas in Connecticut, The Shop Around the Corner, The Ref, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, etc. . . . whatever floats your flying sleigh!
14) Listen to the following Christmas music: The Nutcracker, Op. 71 by Tchaikovsky, The Messiah by Handel, A Christmas Album by Amy Grant, Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas by Ella Fitzgerald, Christmas: An Irrational Season by Carolyn Arends, A Very Veggie Christmas by VeggieTales.
15) Never let the gladsome tidings of the angel chorus two thousand years ago fade from your memory. Never lose sight of the star. Do not be afraid! I bring you good news of great joy. It is for all the people. Today, in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11
How do you make your Christmases a little more merry?
We celebrate the Baby King
And everything He came to bring
Everytime we give goodwill to men
So, on December 25
Or in the middle of July
Anytime we do what pleases Him
Then it's Christmas . . .
Merry Christmas . . .
This is Christmas -- Now in flesh appearing
-- Carolyn Arends, "Now in Flesh Appearing," from Christmas: An Irrational Season (2004)