I fully admit it — while I appear to get into the swing of things around the holidays just like everyone else on the planet — decorating, sending out cards, wrapping gifts — I am a bit of a Grinch.
The reality is that I get so tired of the commercialism surrounding Christmas that every year I get a little depressed thinking that I’m not really teaching my children the true meaning of the holiday. Sure, we participate in the pageant at church, we read books about the first Christmas, and we attend the beautiful Christmas Eve service, but I still feel like I fall short of the mark.
So, two years ago, we started a tradition where we meet outside with friends in our neighborhood a few days before Christmas and sing Christmas songs. We usually gather around someone’s fire pit, bundled up in our wooly hats, scarves and gloves. The children generally lead the adults in the singing. It is there in the dark, cold stillness of the night with what I believe are truly “choirs of angels” in front of me, that I finally feel that moment of peace — that moment where anything seems possible.
This year, we added a new twist to the event — collecting items for a local charity. Not Christmas gifts, because charities are inundated with these at this time of year, but staples that the group needs all year.
I used to ask everyone to bring cookies to the pre-Christmas gathering. But clearly, we all have enough cookies during the holiday season. In fact, most of us have just about enough of everything we need. And that’s why giving to others is the best present we can give ourselves.
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including two on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.