And by one of “those” posts, I mean the inevitable “are you taking it all in” post that comes around every holiday. Maybe the It’s a Wonderful Life marathon is getting to us. Maybe it’s the lights glowing in the windows as we drive home from work each day or the big, lustrous trees gracing the hallways of Macy’s—but maybe it is something else entirely.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but surely you have….
The holidays provoke a kind of inner angst that leave us all rushing to get it done. And, even when we DO get it all done—wrapping the gifts, securing the tree on the roof of the car, setting up that perfect social campaign—whatever it is that we needed to get done, it still doesn’t feel like enough. Does it? It’s kind of like that Grinchy feeling in reverse. You scoop up all the trees, the roast beast, even Cindy Lou Hoo’s favorite ornaments and we still feel like we’re missing something. We feel like it is just not enough. It needs to be better.
Maybe that’s because it does need to be better and we are missing something, just not in the way we think. We try to fill it by getting more gifts (we wouldn’t want to disappoint), working through dinner to snag that bonus (the company needs us, after all), going out for more ribbon because our packages don’t quite look like they do on the Kay’s commercial. (If every kiss begins with Kay and a beautiful package, the packages at my house might provoke, instead, an angry stomp out of the house. If anyone out there knows how to tie a double bow, I could use your help.)
As terrible as this feeling is, I am an eternal optimist. That feeling of “not enough” and “do more” is your soul’s way of saying… DO SOMETHING THAT MATTERS. Here are four easy ways to do something that matters today and quiet that nagging, inner-voice that isn’t trying to steal your joy—but create it.
Be a Secret Santa…in a Simple Way.
It’s drive-thru season. As much as it probably shouldn’t be, it is. We all need to grab dinner for the kids on the way home and sometimes those double arches are the only way to get dinner done before bedtime. This is a golden opportunity to be a blessing to someone else. Pay for the meal of the person behind you, or just leave a little cash to take some of the burden off their ticket. You can even add an ice-cream or coffee and ask the employee to give it to the person behind you.
No gesture is too small.
To make this even more unique, carry Post-It notes in your car, scribble on “Happy Holidays” or an encouraging quote and ask the employee to slap it on the side of their order. You’ll come away feeling like a hero, and they’ll drive away with a little bit of shock that the world is still a beautiful place to live.
Give a Little Free.
You have many talents and skills. I know you do, because you wouldn’t be out there reading up on becoming even better if you didn’t. That’s passion. You want to use your gifts up to the fullest.
Share what you know with someone else.
Maybe you are a marketer and have friends starting up a new business. It can be hard to know how to market yourself when you first start out. What’s SEO? What the heck is Google AdWords? Do I need an Instagram? A brand story…really? What’s that?! It’s like being a snowman and stepping into the eighth circle of hell if you’re new to it—but you probably know that it’s not all that hard when you know how to get going. It’s mostly diligence and creative drive. No melting necessary.
Show someone how to do what you do. You don’t have to over-invest or make them an expert. Just share. Your 15 minutes could mean 15 years of success for a friend’s business. You just never know. 15 minutes…that’s only about two cats-in-bathtubs videos on YouTube. Come on gang. I know we can do this.
Invest in Your Children.
I think we can all admit it. Sometimes after a long day, we want to lock the door and do anything but play. Right? We just want them to go to bed and give us a minute of peace. I get it, and it makes us feel like terrible human beings. I get it. First of all, forgive yourself. You’re tired because you are working to supply them with food, shelter, and clothing. That’s a big feat! It’s not all or nothing here. That’s the first thing to know.
Spending time with your kids can simply be snuggling up on the sofa—even if you are all reading separate books. It can mean taking an extra step at dinner to make it memorable. Instead of pancakes, have a pancake bar and set out items like bananas, chocolate chips, and other items to make Christmas faces. Take pics of what you make. Eat dinner in your pajamas. If you make the time you share memorable, even if its 30 minutes, it can feel like much longer, and your kid WILL notice the effort. They will probably even want to post it all to their social feeds. When your child puts you on their social feed, you’ve officially made it. You’re the cool parent. (You still need to drop them off 100 feet from the school, though.)
Create Something Spectacular and Quick…Together.
You probably drive past at least two nursing homes every day and don’t even realize it. Right now, if you, your spouse and children (even your office, if you are single) each create a hand drawn picture or card until Christmas, you will likely have enough to deliver to a local nursing home.
This time together is fun because it’s creative and meaningful. Once you’re all done, just drop them off at the front desk of the nursing home of your choice. They can be used to share with those who may not have family coming in for the holidays. It won’t just make their day; it will make their season, and to think, it only took about 5 minutes each day, and you did it together.
If you want to ensure everyone is covered, call ahead and check the number of residents. Add on a few to make sure you don’t miss a new resident coming in just in time for Christmas.
As you fight against that feeling of “not enough,” don’t take it as a reason to panic. Take it as a reason to listen to what your soul is trying to say, but doesn’t have the words to tell you. Live your best life now…’Tis the season.