CHRISTMAS THOUGHTS
from The Little Book of Christmas Joys
by H. Jackson Brown Jr., Rosemary Brown, and Kathy Peel

Be the first to wish everyone you meet a Merry Christmas.

Go see a small town Christmas parade.

Don't count calories from December 15th through January 2nd.

Mend a broken relationship with someone during the holidays.

Take a basket of goodies to a notoriously grumpy neighbor.

Be nice to sales personnel. They're often wearier than you are.

Don't schedule yourself too tightly during the holidays. Before making an appointment, ask yourself, "Can this wait until after Christmas?"

Take a holiday family photograph each year in the same spot, such as by a favorite tree in your yard. In years to come, you'll have a wonderful record of the growth of your family, as well as of the tree.

Make an effort to attend every Christmas party you're invited to, even if you can only stay a few minutes.

Adopt a needy family for the holidays. Let members of your family buy a present for the person closest to their own age.

Fill your house with the holiday fragrance of cloves, orange peel, and cinnamon sticks simmering on the kitchen stove.

Don't despair if you are short of cash. Be creative. Looking back, you'll discover that the Christmases when you had the least money were the ones that left you with the best memories.

Let go of a problem you can't solve. Enjoy the season.

Hang a favorite Christmas ornament from your car's rearview mirror.

Sprinkle confetti in your Christmas card envelopes.

Chill a dark sheet of construction paper. Take it and a child outside and rediscover the wonder of snowflakes.

Take a basket of goodies to your local fire and police stations.

Wear a smile and a Santa hat when you walk through the mall.

If a child gives you a homemade gift, convince him it's your favorite gift of all.

Purchase a special Christmas sweater and wear it often.

Choose a Christmas tree that's a little too big for the room.

Tie a wreath with a big red bow to the grill of your car.

Organize a progressive dinner.

Try at least one new Christmas recipe and one new decorating idea.

Start a Christmas-theme jigsaw puzzle on December 1st. Try to have it finished by Christmas Eve.

Take a shut-in a scrumptious Christmas dinner.

Rent a Santa Claus suit. Slip it on during your lunch hour and hand out candy canes to everyone in the office.

Take your family to a live performance of The Nutcracker Suite or a church choir rendition of Handel's Messiah.

Before going to bed on Christmas Eve, read by candle light about the birth of Jesus in Luke 2.

Personalize your Christmas cards with a short handwritten note.

Tie jingle bells on your kid's shoelaces.

When you think you have enough lights on your tree, add two more strands.

Give a young member of your family the honor of placing the star or angel on top of the tree.

Go caroling.

Instead of the usual bedtime stories, read to your children about the Christmas customs in other countries.

Buy more Scotch tape, wrapping paper, and Christmas cards than you think you'll need.

Deliver coffee cakes to your neighbors to enjoy on Christmas morning.

Never write the word Christmas as Xmas.

Enjoy a couple of meals illuminated only by the Christmas tree.

Before going to bed every night of the Christmas season, ask yourself, "Whose life did I make brighter today?"

Volunteer in a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.

Don't give anyone a fruitcake.

Don't give a child underwear.

Don't give your spouse a kitchen scale.

Call a nursing home and get the names of five people who don't often receive mail. Send each one a Christmas card and sign it "from Santa".

Tip someone who doesn't expect it.

Wait until Christmas morning to place Jesus in your Nativity scene.

Remember that the best solution for holiday blues is to do something special for someone else.

Tell your children about Christmas when you were their age.

Wear outrageous Christmas socks.

Drink from a Christmas coffee mug.

Watch It's a Wonderful Life.

Watch Dicken's A Christmas Carol.

Watch a Christmas cartoon.

Never refuse a holiday dessert.

Offer to run Christmas errands for an elderly friend or relative.

Cut off the fronts of attractive Christmas cards to use as gift tags.

Record a cheerful Christmas greeting on your answering machine.

Make French toast with eggnog.

Attend a Christmas Eve service with your family.

Make snow angels.

Attend a Christmas bazaar. Buy something whether you need it or not.

Give an anonymous gift of money to someone who has been laid off.

Start a special collection for each of your children, adding an item each year.

Ask for a gift box for each gift you buy.

Help an elderly neighbor decorate his or her home.

Curl up before the fire with someone you love.

Be ready with a smile or a hug.

On Christmas morning, phone some relatives who live far away and wish them a Merry Christmas.

Help your children bake Christmas breads or cookies to give to teachers.

Display prominently the Christmas artwork your child brings home forom school.

Videotape family members recalling their favorite Christmas memories.

Listen to the barking dogs sing "Jingle Bells". Once.

Put something Christmassy in every room in your home.

Remember that Christmas carols never sound better than when you sing them in church.

Don't wait until 1:30 am Christmas morning to put together "some assembly required" items.

Enjoy Christmas music in your home, office, and car.

Fill a basket with past Christmas photos. Put it in a prominent spot.

Sing or whistle "Winter Wonderland" in the shower.

Organize a neighborhood yard decorating contest with the winner receiving a plate of goodies from the losers.

Create a homemade sled from a large appliance box. Then look for biggest hill you can find.

Sometime during the holidays, go through your closets and box up clothing you haven't worn in two years. Give away items that are still in good condition.

Record names and addresses in your address book as your receive Christmas cards--before your throw away the envelopes.

Allow extra time to navigate through Christmas traffic.

Talk with your children about the first Christmas.

Offer refreshments to carolers.

Create a special Christmas morning menu and serve it every year.

Don't wait for someone else to spread Christmas joy.

THROUGHOUT THE SEASON, GIVE FAMILY AND OTHERS THE GIFT OF A SWEET DISPOSITION.

Help a child make paper chains.

Tie a bright bow on your pet's collar.

Give your place in the checkout line to someone who looks like they have had a hard day.

Try to keep up with your fitness routine.

Wrap your child's bedroom door like a present.

Compliment at least three people every day in December.

Let a child decorate a small Christmas tree just the way he likes it.

Let the youngest and oldest family members pass out the presents.

Start a collection of Christmas cookie cutters.

Refuse to let heavy traffic and long lines dampen your Christmas spirit.

Fix yourself a cup of hot cocoa and read "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost.

Never give a gift that's not nicely wrapped.

Put white lights on your house plants.

Make a friend of an enemy this Christmas.

On a clear night, find the bright North Star and recall the story of the Wise Men.

Teach children to look at the gift tag Before they open the present so they will know whom to thank.

Be a generous giver.

Be a gracious receiver.

Make it a holiday practice to do something nice for someone without telling them you did it.

Be the first to lob a snowball and start a battle.

Buy a big red candle for the dining table and light it every night during the holidays.

Attend a children's Christmas pageant.

Never give someone else's child a gift you would not want your own child to receive.

Open Christmas cards as a family activity each night at the dinner table. Read the messages aloud.

Give someone who's discouraged the gift of encouragement.

Make your family feel just as important as your holiday company.

Pay a debt for someone.

Add a new Christmas cassette or CD to your collection each year.

Offer to carry someone's packages.

Plan a quiet evening with your family the week after Christmas. Talk about your goals for the coming year.

Go ice skating.

Dress the kids for bed, then get in the car to see Christmas lights.

If you're feeling harried, go to a church, sit in the sanctuary, and reflect on the real meaning of Christmas.

Introduce a shy person to others at the office Christmas party.

Keep plenty of apple cider and microwave popcorn on hand for unexpected guests.

Don't forget, no matter how many Christmas photos you take, next year you'll wish you had taken more.

This Christmas, write letters to several people who have had a positive influence on your life. Thank them for the gift they have given you.

Let someone else have the parking space you've just found. Think of it as a gift to a stranger.

Give gifts with no strings attached.

Write with a red or green pen.

Buy something from students holding a Christmas bake sale and tell them to keep the change.

Include your children in the preparation of holiday meals.

This season, cut others--as well as yourself--more slack than usual.

Replace your shoelaces with a red one and green one.

If your child gets a game for Christmas, play it with him and let him win.

Stop and help someone who's stuck in the snow.

Take a walk with someone you love on Christmas afternoon.

Read The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell to a child.

Remember that the loving holiday spirit in your home depends more on the words you speak than on the gifts you give.

Turn off the lights and put on "White Christmas". Ask your spouse to dance.

Secretly shovel off your neighbor's front walk.

Answer your phone by saying "Merry Christmas".

Learn the second verse to "Jingle Bells".

Have an extra ice scraper to give to someone who might need one.

Pay the toll for the car behind you during the week of Christmas.

Carry jumper cables. If you don't need them, you're set to help someone else.

Order and pay for a pizza for a neighbor. Ask the delivery person to tell them it's from Santa.

Ask everyone at your celebration "the Christmas remember most" or "the craziest gift I ever received".

When you hear the song "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" grab the family member nearest you and kick up your heels.

Have a Christmas party for your children and their friends.

Don't let a rude person steal your Christmas joy.

Let your children participate in decorating the house for the holidays.

Write "Joy to the World" with your finger on a frosty window.

Serve cinnamon sticks with hot cider and peppermint sticks with hot chocolate.

Ask children "What are you giving for Christmas?" instead of "What are you getting for Christmas?"

Get out old games--Monopoly, Clue, etc--and have an ongoing family tournament during December.

Discover the quiet satisfaction of anonymous giving.

Take your camera to holiday parties.

Don't try to do everything yourself. Remember, even Santa needs helpers.

The day you take down your decorations, ask family members what they liked best and least about the holidays.

Decorate the backs of dining chairs with bows or stockings.

If your children are grown, offer to take someone else's for a special activity.

Let the youngest child in the family who's old enough read the Christmas story on Christmas Eve. Record it, and give it to them when they are grown.

Remember that peace on earth starts with peace in our homes and in our hearts.

After opening the presents, hug all your family members and tell them they are the best gift of all.

For Christmas prepare as many do-ahead dishes as you can.

Don't forget to hang the mistletoe.

Don't forget the batteries.

Don't forget whose birthday we're celebrating.

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