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“It doesn’t feel like Christmas this year.”
I’ve said it, my friends have said it – and we’ve been saying it for years!
Christmas just isn’t the same. And it’s not only because of the events of the past few years…
For me, Christmas has lost its magical feeling a little more each year since I’ve entered adulthood. Those old family traditions aren’t the same; it’s not like I’m going to sit on a mall Santa’s lap and tell him what I want for Christmas!
But it isn’t just growing up that can create a shift in how we experience Christmas. Tons of other changes in one’s personal life can affect how we experience that Christmas magic… if we experience it at all anymore.
Why It Doesn’t Feel Like Christmas
Divorce. Kids growing up. Moving house. A death in the family. Becoming estranged from family members. A change in religious beliefs. A loss of financial status. Physical and/or mental health struggles. And, of course, a global pandemic.
Any of these things (to name a few) might lead to someone saying, “I’m just not feeling Christmas this year.”
But for many of us, the memory of those magical Christmases is powerful enough to drive us to seek new ways to experience that holiday joy.
So, let’s take a look at a few ways to keep our inner Scrooge at bay, and reclaim Christmas for ourselves once again.
If It Doesn’t Feel Like Christmas, Start New Christmas Traditions
When dealing with other life changes, it’s common to try to cling to any sense of familiarity we can.
But if things have changed so much that your favorite old Christmas traditions just don’t feel the same, it may be time to take the season into your own hands and create new traditions for your new life.
Here are a few different Christmas tradition ideas to try out!
It doesn’t feel like Christmas for me until I’ve heard Burl Ives’ Holly Jolly Christmas at least once!
Put together a Christmas playlist to put on whenever you want to feel extra Christmassy. I always play my favorite Christmas music when I wrap gifts for the season, and when I’m decorating the tree.
Watch your favorite Christmas movies – or try new ones!
Some people like to make a tradition of watching a particular set of holiday films in December. (Mine would be While You Were Sleeping, Home Alone 1 & 2, Elf, and, of course, the most Christmassy film of all… Die Hard!)
Make a list of the all the Christmas classics you want to watch in December, and tackle them one by one!
Or, you might get a kick out of watching whatever ridiculous Hallmark or Lifetime Original Movies have come out this year. New traditions, new movies!
Holiday Food & Beverages
Apple cider? Hot cocoa? Mulled wine?
Sugar cookies? Christmas ham? …Fruitcake???
There are many, many foods and beverages associated with the Christmas season.
If you’re looking to start new traditions, try an edible one that you haven’t yet given a go!
Bake cookies and decorate them with icing and sprinkles. Make some holiday fudge, or peanut brittle! Try spicing up your hot cocoa with a dash of cinnamon… The possibilities are endless!
As someone who’s learning Welsh and has dreams of one day visiting the beautiful country of Wales (beyond that of traveling from home), I am excited to adopt the Welsh tradition of making toffee during the holidays!
Honor Your Values
Christmas is a great time to show your care for others by volunteering or giving to charity. Honestly, it doesn’t feel like Christmas without the spirit of giving.
Something I love doing (but, thanks to the ugliness of capitalism, haven’t been able to afford the past couple of years) is buying toys for kids in foster care.
Animal shelters are particularly busy during the holidays and can use the extra help, as can soup kitchens.
Consider also (if and when the pandemic subsides and it is safe to do so) visiting a retirement home and spending time with older people who may not have family coming to visit them. Many senior residential centers will even work with you to create an event if you’d like to host a fun activity for the residents!
Try New Christmas Decorations
If your usual Christmas decor isn’t getting you in the mood, try a new aesthetic! Go for a refined silver and gold color scheme rather than red and green. I’m growing partial to a silver, blue, and white Christmas, myself.
To really switch things up, do a beach-themed Christmas, or incorporate unicorns into everything… whatever makes things interesting and sparks that little bit of Christmas wonder.
Buy yourself a new ornament for the tree each year. A new tradition I’m starting is to take myself out for a nice breakfast at a café, and then head to a local shop to buy a couple of ornaments (one fun, one fancy).
Or, why not start a tradition of making an ornament to commemorate each year?
Which leads me to the next group of ideas…
Do Some Holiday Crafts
Christmas is a great time to get crafty.
You can make snowflakes out of recycled gift wrap.
Paint or draw a Christmassy scene every year – or sculpt a tree out of clay!
Gingerbread houses make for both a fun Christmas craft and a delicious holiday treat.
You can design your own ugly Christmas sweaters, or knit some holiday gloves!
Do Winter Activities
If you’re finding that it doesn’t feel like Christmas, try some winter activities you haven’t done before!
They may be dependent on idyllic winter weather, like:
- Ice skating
- Building snowmen
But not all winter activities require snow!
You can also try:
- Sending Christmas cards
- Doing a holiday photoshoot
- Gathering with family and/or friends
- Hosting or taking part in a Secret Santa gift exchange
- Hosting or taking part in a White Elephant gift exchange
- Watching (or playing) winter sports, like hockey, football, or rugby
These are just a few ideas for new Christmas traditions to try out if you’re feeling like Christmas has lost its magic.
…But what about the old traditions? Do we have to leave everything behind just because it’s not “working” anymore? Or can some of our classic Christmas traditions be saved?
If It Doesn’t Feel Like Christmas, Rekindle Your Old Christmas Traditions
One of my most cherished holiday traditions growing up was eating a finger-food dinner and watching White Christmas with the family on Christmas Eve.
Now, I am estranged from one side of my family, and that tradition has been lost.
Or has it? I’ve noticed that it doesn’t feel like Christmas if I don’t have a veggie tray on Christmas Eve.
Putting whole olives on my fingers and popping them into my mouth one by one while Danny Kaye sings about doing choreography is something I can do no matter how old I get, or where I live, or who I’m with. It’s a tradition worth preserving, for me.
Examine your old Christmas traditions, and see if you can keep any of them. They may need to be molded to your new circumstances, but, hey, sometimes breathing new life into something can make it even more special!
Some traditions might be too precious to change, where the reminder of how it used to be might make you feel worse. It might be best to let those ones go, and just keep the memories in your heart (to put it very cheesily).
But if there are traditions that can be preserved, go for it! Get creative! This is your Christmas, and you can do with it what you want!
If It Doesn’t Feel Like Christmas, Just Skip Christmas and Do Your Own Thing
Maybe, after everything, you find yourself saying, “I don’t like Christmas anymore.”
And that’s okay!
If Christmas has become irredeemable for you, but you still want to have something fun to do in December, just do your own thing!
Enjoy the season without putting pressure on yourself to have a merry little Christmas!
Try celebrating the Winter Solstice instead.
Create a New Holiday
Create a new holiday with your own meaning and traditions to give a little of your own magic to the winter season!
It can be serious; a time to reflect on the year and tell the people close to you that you love them.
Or it can be whacky and fun, like celebrating some of these silly little “holidays” throughout the month of December.
I think the best kinds of holiday seasons are the ones where we prioritize both enjoying ourselves, and also taking the time to go a little deeper and find (or create) meaning.
Whatever new approach you take to the Christmas season, I wish you the best in finding joy at this time of year (and always).
Has stress been keeping you from enjoying the holidays? Here’s a collection of encouraging quotes to assure you that everything will be okay.
What are your ideas for preserving Christmas spirit through all of life’s twists and turns? I wanna read ’em in the comments below!! <3