7 Things to Do Instead of Wasting Time at the Mall this Holiday Season
List 5 gifts you purchased last year.
Takes you awhile, right?
List 5 gifts you purchased for family 5 years ago.
Even more difficult, I imagine.
Yet, I bet last year and five years ago, the holiday season found you driving around like a crazy person, trying to find perfect gifts, make perfect cookies, nail your decorations, or perform some other holiday feat.
Let’s face it, every year most of us run ourselves ragged during the holidays, trying to cover all bases for maximum enjoyment. We want to get the perfect gifts for family and friends, decorate our homes, bake cookies, go to parties, and basically deck the halls in whatever way possible. If we don’t celebrate the season, we’re still exposed to the ads on TV, the traffic on the roads and especially at shopping centers, and the overall collective consciousness of recognizing the season.
Basically, it’s that most magical time of year when everything retail - from big box to mom-n-pop - gets together to have one big house party. It’s just plain crazy… there’s really no other way to describe it.
And that crazy is beginning earlier and earlier each year. This past Saturday (the Saturday before Thanksgiving), I went to the mall to make some returns. It felt like it was the day before Christmas. It took me fifteen minutes to find a parking space, and the stores were swamped. I felt a combination of “get me out of here now” and OMG I must buy everything I see. In other words, it felt completely like the holidays.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this time of year - we tend to be nicer to each other, we reach out to help those we both know and don’t know, and our daily routines are perhaps loosened up a bit to enjoy the season.
But I have to be honest with you. While I like giving and getting gifts as the next person, I kind of dread the retail madness. We all tend to get so wrapped up (convenient pun) in getting those perfect gifts for others (plus a few for ourselves) that at the end of the day we're tired and broke. More importantly, we run the risk of missing the point of it all. Why do we buy gifts? To recognize the ones we love, right? But the ugly Christmas sweater truth is that in the midst of doing this, we get so caught up in it all that we contradict this very goal.
So, after just a few crazy hours at the mall this Saturday, I came to a conclusion. I don’t want to be a part of holiday-mall-a-palooza this year. Yes, I’ll still buy gifts (perhaps online in the click of a button) and decorate my tree… but I’m telling you now, I’m not going to give in to the madness as I have in the past. Feel the same way? If so, consider some alternatives to drinking too much holiday Kool Aid this season.
7 Things to Do Instead of Wasting Time at the Mall or Partaking in Other Holiday Madness
- If you’re lucky enough to still have your parents, visit them. Or call them. Don’t wait until the holiday to do it. Visit instead of shopping. Parents not nearby? Then visit someone else who’s important to you.
- Call a friend you haven’t talked to in a long time. Wait, did I just say CALL? (Not a typo.) Yes, call. Talk to someone - maybe your college roommate, maybe your cousin, maybe that friend you lost touch with. You know the one- that person you drop FB messages or texts to that say, “We’ve got to catch up.” But then you never do. Well, I’m here to tell you to catch up. Bonus points if you schedule to meet them in person.
- Declare a personal snow day or sick day - with your significant other or kids, or both. What to do? Maybe you simply stay in your pj’s all day... or, go to a Christmas movie. Make cookies. Do nothing - but do it with someone you care about. You could also call your BFF and book an appointment at the spa. Let’s face it, we spend so much time doing anything and everything for our jobs and other commitments, yet we rarely take the time to simply spend time with those we love. If you can’t take a day during the week, take one Saturday (yes, I’m saying a WHOLE DAMN DAY) and put the brakes on all of those activities and errands that you think are so important. Declare your family or friends more important than those things.
- Look for people you can help. There are people everywhere who could use a little Christmas. Find ways to help make their season brighter - by donating gifts, money, or your time. It doesn’t have to be a family, either. Stop at a nursing home and see if there are any needs there. Visit an animal shelter. Dogs need holiday love too. And, you don’t have to limit it to just helping in December. Consider what your “super power” is… and think of how you could share that special power or talent with the world.
- Add some light and beauty to your life. You don’t have to find the Grizwald family tree and light it and your house up so brightly that you threaten the safety of your neighbors. Just find something. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas or the season, you can still find a way to add some brightness to your surroundings. Get some candles burning, hang some lights or sit inside next to a fire. You’ll be amazed at how light can not only make your world a little prettier, but also calmer.
- Do you have a list of parties longer than Santa’s good boys and girls list? In light of everything else that goes on during your regular life, adding a bunch of “extra appearances” can seem like a lot. So, be selective in your RSVP’s. There’s no law that says you have to hit every party. But make it a point to go willingly, not grudgingly to the parties you do choose to attend. Appreciate the time you’re there, and look for people to connect with, enjoy their company, and have fun.
- Slow down. No, I mean it. This season is crazy, but if you're going to be stressed and crazed, then really, what’s the point? This philosophy goes for your life too. This could have been a post called 7 Things to Do Instead of Working Too Hard. Slowing down isn’t just good advice for this time of year, we need to apply it to our every day lives. Regardless of the season or religious beliefs, we all need reminders that this crazy world spins at an insane pace. It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind and do a thousand things a day, simply because we never intentionally slow down. When this happens, it’s easy to lose sight of the most important things… the people in our lives.
But, wait! Maybe you’ve read this piece and are thinking, “But I LOVE the holidays! I love shopping. I love decorating. I love everything about it.” Or maybe you’re thinking, yeah, great advice, but I can’t really NOT shop or NOT go to work or blow off that holiday work party.
I understand what you're thinking, and I'm not telling you to pretend the holidays don't exist, or to totally blow them off. All I’m saying is to simply take a breath. Look around you and realize that while you’re running around trying to make the most of the holidays, the reasons behind the season are staring right back at you. Try not to get so engulfed by the idea of it all that you lose sight of the point of it all.
This time of year is about pausing and remembering what’s really important in life. It’s about peace on earth and sharing glad tidings. Most importantly, it’s about appreciating and acknowledging the important people in our lives.
Finally, think about how fast this season goes, and in turn how fast life goes. It passes us by in a flash, which is why we need to spend as little time as possible on the unimportant things like looking for a parking spot or getting the best deal, so we have more time for what truly matters... the people in our lives.
Cheers to that this holiday season and every day, friends.
Copyright 2017 Abbey Algiers