I'm not a fan of the cold and what the streets look like the day after it has snowed, but I do love the warmth you feel in the air when you walk past a Christmas market selling hot cider. Or how the city that's always rushing to get from one place to another suddenly moves slower — thousands of people crowding around enjoying the festive season, the holiday window displays, the carols that play in every shop you walk into, and the abundance of decorations.
Whenever I remember what the festive holidays were like growing up, I can't help but think about turkey, ponche, Santa Claus, grapes, 12 wishes, and getting to stay up past my bedtime on Christmas and New Year's Eve. We had numerous calendars with Xs crossing out the days until the next holiday, and we made constant trips to the shops, adding new decorations to the house every week. And while I still look forward to doing all those things, over the years, I've spent less time thinking about what I'd be receiving and more on who I'd be spending those days with.
Over the years I've spent less time thinking about what I'd be receiving and more on who I'd be spending those days with.
After losing an uncle and my grandmother during the same festive season a few years back, I've learned to spend more time being thankful for what the year has brought me and to be more appreciative of the stories that my parents and relatives like to tell during our parties. Each year, I learn something new about a family member, which has helped me learn more about myself, too. I've learned to give without expecting anything in return, that a little help to those in need goes a long way, and that baking with love makes all the difference.
I've also shifted my focus to charitable work, checking my privilege and using my free time to volunteer at homeless shelters and thrift stores with a mission like Housing Works and playing Santa Claus by participating in programs that send new toys to kids in need.
Now that I have a daughter, starting new traditions and continuing old ones is my main priority. I have nothing but good festive memories, and I want the same for my daughter. Thankfully, she loves the holidays as much as I do and asks to go apple and pumpkin picking, helps me mix ingredients when I bake, puts up decorations with me, and tries to wrap presents on her own. Although, we're still working on getting that perfect picture with Santa.
As she continues to grow, I'd like for our holiday season to continue being centred on empathy. To know that we have the option of choosing not to focus on material things is a huge privilege, and it's one we have to appreciate and honour by doing good for others. Of course, it isn't enough to do good during the festive holidays, but hopefully the good one does builds enough momentum that you'll find yourself doing good deeds well into the new year.