The phrase “staunch believer” is an understatement when it comes to how I feel about waiting until the day after Thanksgiving to begin celebrating Christmas. I’m not going to say there was once an instance in college where some of my roommates and I did not speak to others for a time based on how we felt about the matter, but I’m not going to not say that happened either. It’s not that I don’t like Christmas; on the contrary, it’s one of my favorite things that exists. Food and sleep rank pretty high too and maybe even a very specific list of people, but Christmas is at the top. I just got it in my head for some reason that it can only be acknowledged within a very rigid window of time and always clung, sometimes violently, to this arbitrary notion.
In light of what’s going on in the world though, I think the song is accurate and we do need a little Christmas now. When I judged my friend, Ashley, for burning a fall candle in July, she responded with something that has pretty much become my life motto ever since then: “Life is short. People are psycho. Do what you gotta do.” In light of that, I not only started secretly listening to Christmas music in my car a week and a half ago (but always turn it down if I think a pedestrian may be able to hear it,) but I also realized that there are some things that I specifically associate with the holiday season that could, and even should, be celebrated throughout the year.
I think part of the reason it was always important to me to wait until after Thanksgiving to think about Christmas is because I really love the idea behind Thanksgiving. Gratitude is basically magic. Studies show that it can strengthen relationships, improve physical and mental health, enhance empathy, reduce aggression, promote sound sleep and the list goes on. Apparently we can just get these benefits all the time, not just on one state-sanctioned day. Whether it’s your best friend or the mail carrier or The Universe or your parents or God or the person who held the door open for you or yourself, even just saying “thanks” can go a long way, so let’s do it every chance we get.
Giving is something that I also think we could use more of. My close friends and family know they can expect to get their gift from me up to a year after their birthday or Christmas because I don’t give anyone anything unless I think it’s perfect. And sometimes there is weeping, occasionally from both parties involved which leads me to believe my system works. But apparently I don’t have to wait for an official gift-giving occasion. I can give something to my friend for cooking me dinner or my co-worker for driving me somewhere or anyone I like just for existing. If we’re not into the whole altruism thing, studies also show that giving is good for us for many reasons including evoking happiness, promoting social connections and, you guessed it, promoting gratitude. So let’s get to giving whether there’s a holiday for it or not. You can get some great ideas by clicking on the picture above.