I’ll be honest: our little family has had a rough year. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited and ready to decorate and throw myself fully into the cheerfulness of the Christmas season, because gosh, we need it.
Not every Christmas season has felt that way, though; sometimes, for whatever reason, you are just not into it. I’ve been there, and twice this year I’ve heard friends and family debating on decorating/participating much at all.
Here’s your holly jolly pep talk: 2016…well. 2016 has been something else, hasn’t it? Aside from a few amazing moments and some realllllly cute babies being born, it’s been a doozy for nearly everyone. I think we all need some calm and bright and goodwill towards one another, don’t you?
It’s like the Beatles said: “Hey Scrooge, don’t make it bad; take a Christmas song and make it better.” I mean…basically they said that. Sort of. It was very close.
Since I can’t carol at each of your doorsteps (I know, I am truly sorry), I thought I’d share some things that have gotten me out of my slump in years past.
Without further ado, I give to you The Bah-Humbucket List:
1. Get some mistletoe. I know we just discussed not wanting to decorate, but this isn’t really decorating, is it? This is just hanging one teensy thing up, that’s all. Catch your people or even your pets under it and give ’em some sugar. Some years our family has even gathered our own, which adds to the fun!
2. Watch Elf. You had to know this would be on here. Buddy’s enthusiasm is contagious. There are plenty of other great options out there, but if you can only pick one, this should be it.
3. Take a trip to Dollywood. The lights, the music, the parade: Dollywood knows how to get the Christmas feels going. Be sure to visit when it’s dark enough to appreciate the lights, and ride the train to sing Christmas songs with Dolly.
4. Bake somethin’. Break-apart or from scratch, cookies or brownies: plate those bad boys, and take them to someone who’s as in need of cheer as you’ve felt.
5. Shop donations instead of stuff. Sometimes what bums me out the most about Christmas is the rabid consumerism, but we can ward it off by putting our money where it will make a true difference. There are so many ways to give, whether it’s a one-time sum or a monthly pledge. You can honor a loved one’s generous spirit by giving in their name this year, and while you’re deciding, please do consider giving locally to a cause that will help families and businesses in our Smoky Mountains.
6. Try skipping the packaged cocoa. You deserve the kind of hot cocoa that Tim Allen got in The Santa Clause — the real deal stuff. This recipe takes no time and it’s a favorite in our house. I add a dash or two extra of salt, occasionally a little cayenne, but you can customize it any way you’d like!
7. Watch this reindeer live cam. I highly recommend that you watch this while drinking your cocoa. 10/10. Best reindeer babies.
8. Go towards the light. Every year we take the kids on a Christmas lights tour, and all that twinkle perks me right up. You can round up your crew, tour the neighborhood close by, and then maybe find one of the bigger displays. We are partial to Sevier County’s Winterfest, and that may have something to do with the Krispy Kreme at the end of the 12 day of Christmas lights. Light-seekers can check out Knoxville Moms Blog’s great list of the lights around town!
9. Have a gingerbread house play date. Our Christmas time play date on our base back in Maryland is still one of my very favorite memories. Have each family bring one component of the houses, like icing, candies, and the gingerbread (or graham crackers). Maybe have some wine so you don’t go all Buildings Regulations on your tiny construction workers.
10. Follow your nose. Our sense of smell and memory are closely linked, so it stands to reason that smelling Christmas can lead to feeling Christmas. There are essential oil blends created just for this time of year, but if oils aren’t your thing, you can use my friend Megan’s super simple recipe for stove top potpourri: first, take tangerine peels left behind by your constantly snacking children, then one whole orange cut into quarters. Add a couple of cinnamon sticks and cloves and place them in a pot. Cover with water and let simmer.