This Christmas List Brings Back the Spirit in a Big Way


I meant to post a Gift Guide today (after all, there are less than 50 days until Christmas arrives with its surrounding merriment, hoopla, and reindeer – lists must be made, gifts must be bought) but every time I sat down to do it, my mind started wandering. Maybe it’s because, in my quest for an endless summer, I find myself writing this post from Bali, where temperatures are hovering around 30°C, and scarves and mittens have been replaced by bikinis and flip flops. It’s tough to really embrace the spirit of the season when you’re sitting on the beach.

The other day I was in town wandering through a surf shop, checking out the racks full of sundresses, shorts, tanks, and tees when I noticed I was singing along to the song on the radio, and I slowly realized that song was It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas. Ha! Quite the opposite.

This must be what it’s like to have Christmas in Australia. I’ve never really thought about it before, but in Bali you can’t swing a surfboard without hitting an Aussie, and through chatting with them I’m learning that not everyone experiences a white Christmas. In the land down under, Christmas is more likely to involve stringing up lights in the palm trees and spending the day on the beach. Sand in my toes instead of salt on my boots? My Canadian mind is exploding!

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the gift guide. Santa might put me on the naughty list for shirking my blogger duties here, but something tells me you are going to have more than enough sources for gift ideas (if you’re really stuck, pick up the latest issue of Harpers Bazaar, Elle, Chatelaine, or InStyle, or wander into any mall and get ready for the onslaught of promos, signage, and holiday sales), freeing me up to write a few different thoughts on Christmas and not just what to buy.

To be honest, I’m not even sure I’d know what to recommend. Being a nomad for the last several months has definitely changed my perspective on shopping. When all of your possessions have to fit into your backpack you suddenly become pretty choosy about what you buy. I’ve said no to new purchases way more often than I’ve said yes, because every item has to pass the “is this going to make it into the bag?” test. And if the answer is yes, what am I willing to give up to make that happen? Shopaholics, take note – if you ever want to curb your spending, this is a surefire way.

If anything, I’d say put the gift list on the backburner and make a Christmas Spirit list instead. “What’s a Christmas Spirit list?” you ask. It’s a list of all the things that bring back the spirit of the season – the things that make you feel like a kid again, filled with wonder, imagination, and joy. Here’s mine.

1. Blast my favourite Christmas tune – Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas – and have a dance party. Play it no fewer then seven times. Bonus points if I can get my neighbours to join in.
2. Send notes to all the people who are important in my life and make sure they know they’re never far from my mind. (Normally I’d say make it snail mail because I’m a big fan of an old-fashioned hand-written note, but when you’re dealing with international borders and the questionable reliability of the Indonesian postal system, email may have to suffice.)
3. Have some face time (or FaceTime) with my family, so even if I can’t be there for things like decorating the tree, I can still join in the fun.
4. Watch Elf at least once.
5. Do something nice for someone else. It can be big or small, but do something that helps another person and puts a smile on their face.
6. Hang a homemade ornament from a palm tree.
7. Drink eggnog.
8. Make eggnog.
9. Leave someone an unexpectedly large tip.
10. Write a letter to Santa with all my wishes. Use those wishes to determine my goals for the year ahead.

Your turn. Take a few minutes, maybe today, maybe later tonight, and make your list. What’s on it? Skating with your kids? Dinner with an old friend? Trimming the tree with family? Whatever it is, I hope it brings a smile to your face and gets you in the Christmas spirit, no matter what the temperature is outside.

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