A few years ago, I had a few last minute gifts to purchase and decided to stop by the shopping just two days before Christmas. Although I popped in early and managed to find a parking space, by the time I was ready to leave, the lots were packed and the traffic patrols were forcing all traffic to travel in one direction only, in the opposite direction from that which would take me home again. I vowed never to put myself in that position again.
Planning holiday gift giving and shopping well in advance is one way to avoid the holiday crush. It is just as important to plan meaningful activities that will enhance your own appreciation of the holiday season. Before you say, “maybe next year…,” be sure and find time to add at least one of these activities before yet nother year passes:
- Visit the Old Red Museum’s Deck the Halls holiday exhibit. Located in the Old Red Courthouse in downtown Dallas, the exhibit runs through January 1, 2012.
- Watch an old holiday film favorite while you bake cookies in the kitchen. I have several favorites, depending on my mood, including the nostalgic It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, the original Miracle on 34th Street, and the campy National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
- Want to avoid those holiday calories? While watching your favorite holiday movie, use up yarn remnants by knitting or crocheting chemo caps for the local branch of the American Cancer Society, preemie caps for an area hospital neo-natal unit, or a “crazy-quilt” afghan for the local shelter.
- It’s not too late to take the kids or grandkids down to see Santa Claus and have their picture taken with Santa.
- Don’t want to face the crowds? Dress them up in holiday finery, gather them around the Christmas tree, and take the pictures yourself. Years from now, you will appreciate an annual photographic record of each “Christmas past.”
- Do a drive-through tour of one of the parks or neighborhoods that offer Christmas lighting displays. These include Kessler Park in Oak Cliff, Prairie Lights in Grand Prairie, Interlochen Holiday Lights in Arlington, Christmas in the Square in Frisco, and Tour of Lights in Farmers Branch. Even though light displays were so much simpler, I will always remember my fascination when my dad drove us around the prettiest light displays in Dallas so many years ago.
- If you don’t have a live Christmas tree, get a scented candle with a seasonal fragrance of evergreen pine, peppermint, or cinnamon and spice. Stop by your local nursery and purchase a few sprigs of evergreen. Just walking through a Christmas tree lot will revive the senses and bring back Christmas memories from long ago.
- Last but not least, clear out some closet space by donating gently-used clothing items to a local charity, make a year-end tax-deductible donation to your favorite charity, or pick up a new toy and drop it off at a toy drive. A number of local radio stations can provide you with information on toy drives they may be sponsoring.