How to keep spirit of Christmas giving going rest of year

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

MARBLE FALLS — Who doesn’t get caught up in the Christmas spirit as the holiday approaches? We smile a little more, greet each other with a bit more cheer and reach deeper into our pockets to help others.

But when Dec. 26 comes about and we begin looking to the new year, do we shed that feeling of joy and good will — at least at that level we felt and practiced leading up to Christmas?

For many of us, it’s back to business as usual. It’s not that we become the Grinch or Scrooge (before their transformations), but just that we return to our normal lives.

That sense of Christmas spirit quickly becomes a memory. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.

“We do get caught up in the season,” said the Rev. Danielle Casey of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Marble Falls. “Once Christmas is over, we can still keep that feeling, I think. We just have to be a bit more deliberate since we don’t have the things that ‘help’ us a during Christmas itself.”

She pointed out that it’s easy to get caught up in the commercial message of Christmas, but if just left with that, it can leave us feeling a bit unfulfilled in the days and months to come. She and her family work on pulling back a bit from the commercialized version of the holiday.

This can mean buying fewer presents for her children, which admittedly isn’t as easy as it sounds.

“I love to watch (my daughter’s) face light up when she opens a gift, but after she unwraps the 20th gift, everything is just more of going through the motions. Typically, you try to cram everything into that one day, and after the second or third present, it ends just opening things and not really being meaningful,” she said. Instead, Casey and her husband hold back on the Christmas gifts a bit and use that money to plan for things throughout the year.

Her children love going to the zoo. So she and her husband, Eric, set up a time for a zoo date with the grandparents.

“We buy the tickets, but it’s something our kids and their grandparents can enjoy together,” she said. “I think one of the best ways to keep the Christmas spirit throughout the year is focusing on those moments and experiences.”

Another part of keeping the Christmas spirit going throughout the year is serving.

During the Christmas season, Casey said she and her family take part in several service projects, including things such as caroling at local retirement centers or at shut-ins’ residences.

“The kids enjoy it, but they see the faces of those they’re helping, and then they want to do it all year,” she said.

Other ideas on keeping the Christmas spirit alive include:

• Have children write letters to people in nursing homes and then hand deliver them

• Once a month (or more) give a gift to someone

• As a family, pick a nonprofit or service organization and volunteer at least once a month with it

• Take part in “Church Under the Bridge” through one of the local churches or Joseph’s Food Pantry (www.josephsfoodpantry.com)

• Send ‘thank-you’ notes (handwritten, not emailed) to people who have helped you in some way, even if it’s as simple as thanking a friendly cashier

• Make it a point to smile more often, especially at people you don’t know

daniel@thepicayune.com

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