This time of the year brings so much joy and happiness to all. There is a reason and it has nothing to do with Santa Claus.
The spirit of Christmas is made up of a lot of things, but a major part of this season's festivities is giving back.A study done by the Journal of Happiness conducted research supporting how one of the greatest forms of happiness is created by giving back to others.
Really capture the true meaning of the season by forming traditions that are not only fun for your family, but also help others:
Go Christmas caroling
Visit neighbors and friends by caroling door to door. The surprise and shared experience of singing and listening to Christmas songs instantly adds joy to any situation.
Give gift baskets
Growing up, my family's Christmas tradition was to give a basket full of Christmas goodies to a family. Normally we would choose a family with children so that we could fill the basket full of toys. Out of all my favorite memories surrounding Christmas, nothing beats the smile that comes across a child's face when they unwrap their toys.
Start a pajama tradition
Have family members pick out a pair of pajamas for their siblings/cousins/parents/ etc before wrapping them up. On Christmas Eve, have everyone unwrap their PJ's before hopping into the car to sip cocoa and look at all the Christmas lights. Remember the act of giving and spending time with family this season.
Act out the Nativity
Acting out the story of Christ's birth helps the family focus on the reason the world celebrates this holiday. Assign each person in your family a part in the Nativity and read Luke 2:1-20 to truly understand what came to pass that night.
Build gingerbread houses
Make gingerbread houses as a family; make sure you decorate each house with candies you all enjoy before inviting neighbors over to admire (and eat) your gingerbread village.
Instead of unwrapping a chocolate on an advent calendar, have an act of service for each day before Christmas. Do the dishes for your brother, who then folds laundry for mom, who takes the dog out for a walk for dad. The cycle of service goes all month (and will hopefully last longer than just December).
Visit a tree farm
Build traditions of being together at the tree farm. Let everyone pick their favorite tree then put it to a vote before bringing home the winning tree. Your family will have fond memories of Christmas tree shopping for years to come.
Start the star tradition
My neighbor's told my parents of a tradition they have that is now a part of our family; I can sincerely say I'm so happy it is. We now gather together around the tree on Christmas Eve and hang a star on the top. Once the star is on the tree, we talk about the star present at Christ's birth and what significance it can have for us in modern times.
Giving back to others should be something we do year round, not just in December. Pledge to do worthwhile service this holiday season (and the rest of the year) by volunteering in a soup kitchen or regularly donating to a charity to always have the Christmas spirit in your home.
Watch the story
Something my family likes to do is gather around the T.V with some popcorn and watch the Nativity story on Christmas Eve. We are all reminded of Christ's humble birth; after we finish watching, we lay baby Jesus in the manger in our home's Nativity set.
Gathering around a warm fire is an easy way to bring the family together on a cold evening. Reflect on all the memories you were able to make as a family throughout the year and shout out your favorite ones. Reminiscing about the year will only help you come closer as a family.
This was a unique tradition I heard of this Christmas season. Sleeping around the tree on Christmas Eve isn't exactly my first thought when it comes to understanding the true meaning of Christmas, but it is a beautiful reminder. Sleeping on the ground will help your family better understand the humble situation Mary and Joseph shared that evening.
With all the presents and parties this Christmas, don't forget to remember to give back, focus on Christ and spend time with those you love.
Liset was raised in Panama but now calls Florida home. She graduated in communications and is now working towards her master's degree. Liset is very outspoken and outgoing. She enjoys anything that involves the ocean, soccer or dancing.