The holiday season is, for me, a strange time of year. Having been raised areligious, I don’t assign a lot of deep, spiritual meaning to the Christmas holiday. It’s always been a (sometimes) nice family day, with some notable exceptions thanks to family in-fighting. Honestly, we weren’t very close to my extended family, so that didn’t really lend any more weight to holidays. Mostly, we baked and cooked and listened to my father play songs on his guitar – Jingle Bell Rock was a favorite. It was a small and quiet affair with a tree decorated in white and gold.
When I was a kid, there was the perk of presents, too (bribery almost always works on small children – it definitely worked on me). But as I got older and moved into my teen years, the shiny glow of presents no longer really won me over. It wasn’t that I wasn’t grateful; rather, I found that I just didn’t really want stuff. It didn’t make me happy anymore. So the charm that Christmas had offered to me when I was little had also faded away.
Without religion, family, or the promise of gifts to anchor me to the season, Christmas was just a couple of days that I got off of school and an excuse to eat a giant ham (and leftovers for a week or two).
After I graduated from college, I discovered that I much preferred creating and giving hand-made presents and baked goods over shopping for gifts. Maybe it’s my ever-tight budget or maybe it’s my powerful urge to make things with my hands, but those are my favorite presents of all. I’m sort of a people-pleaser; feeding people just makes me happy.
If you’re like me and maybe don’t put a lot of weight on presents or big, elaborate dinners, please consider making a donation to a charity organization who can help spread cheer this winter where it is needed most. Some of my favorite secular charities are:
- Phoenix Landing Foundation (the parrot rescue organization that I work with)
- Goodwill Industries
- The Nature Conservancy