Please note…I’m deviating from the November Blog Challenge prompt today to write about the wonderful upcoming holiday season we have in store! Hope y’all don’t mind. 🙂

If you haven’t noticed, Christmas (and the rest of the Holiday season) is quickly approaching. First, there’s Thanksgiving and then…well you know, December 25 comes along quicker than I can whistle Jingle Bells.

The Holiday season, in general, is one of my favorite times of the year – for many reasons, which of course I’m about to explain.

Let’s start with the music… Halloween is exciting and all (you know with all that candy and the stomach ache that comes with eating too much of it – and don’t even get me started on the awesome costumes…), but November first is more exciting for me. Why? Because it is the day deemed acceptable to start listening to Christmas music. Call me crazy, but during November and December it is likely you’ll find (or hear) me singing all the best holiday tunes!

Let’s move on to movies (and TV)… There’s the Grinch, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th Street, Snoopy’s Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, Home Alone, Little Women and The Polar Express. I’m also a fan of Little House on the Prairie’s “A Christmas they Never Forgot” and “Christmas at Plum Creek.”

Christmas Lights, St. Nick, evergreen trees and snowy weather! Need I say more?

Mmm…now for the food. The food prepared for the various get-togethers, dinners and events between Thanksgiving and Christmas (even on to New Years!) tends to be on the delicious side. Now some complain about gaining weight during this time (and then swear they’ll lose it on January 1st) but I do my best to simply increase my exercise routine so I can indulge a bit (who are we kidding…a lot!).

Ohhh! What about gift exchanges? The madness of gift giving starts (nowadays) the afternoon/evening of Thanksgiving with Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals (please, buy everything you can right now at a not-so-fabulous discount made to seem wonderful thanks to advertisements and media). This madness can be your friend or not. As a college student with little money, I have to work to save enough money to purchase gifts for those I care about or for the various causes I give to around the holidays. Money is stressful. The happiness and joy felt at Christmas time can be soured by the ridiculous assumption that buying gifts for everyone is the most important thing. Giving gifts feels good (or it should) but it can be challenging when you simply do not know what another wants or just do not have a budget to afford it (up to your standards). Receiving gifts is easy and fun (who doesn’t love ripping off wrapping paper to find that ugly Christmas sweater?!).

All of the above things are fun when it comes to Christmas, but these are all the things (“stuff”) sold via the media during the holidays. These things are what we simply must have, because if we don’t, well we haven’t celebrated appropriately. Right? Wrong. SO WRONG.

So what are these holidays about? How can we best celebrate? Well, first off, Thanksgiving is a holiday to celebrate all the reasons we are thankful. It’s one day out of the year we take to be thankful for family and friends; sunshine, health, and experiences from the previous year. Christmas is the day Christ was born – it is a religious celebration. It is a day to celebrate His birthday and give back to those who need it most.

Christmas is a day to spend with family and friends – those you love and cherish. It’s a day to give gifts. But not expensive, top-of-the-line gadgets you bought for a (advertised as 50%) 5% discount on Black Friday – no, I’m talking about gifts of comforting words, positive attitudes, giving to those less fortunate, time and commitments to faith and hope in the year to come.

This year, I challenge each and everyone of you to work towards focusing less on what the media tells us is important and more on what is truly important. Be with your family and friends. Show them how much you care. Hold open doors. Help collect cans for a nearby soup kitchen. Be creative in gift giving – is there something you can make instead of buy? Do that – take the time. I promise, it will feel better and mean SO much more to those you care about.

I know it’s early, but I would like to wish each and every one of you (even those of you who do not celebrate Christmas or Thanksgiving!) a blessed Holiday season filled with peace in your hearts and minds, hope for the year to come and love from those around you.