The holidays tend to be charged with lots of emotion and plenty of myths about this magical time of year, especially for those of us in the decades beyond 60.

Wandering through a mall in search of the ideal gift can be exhausting. It’s a time of high expectations that often go unfulfilled. It’s common to experience a misplaced nostalgia for the perfect Christmas that never was.

December can be a struggle, and the long, dark days can make us feel a little sad. Our sadness may be due to having lost friends, family, or pets who used to sit around the table with us.

When you were a kid, the celebrations were stress-free, and gifts were delivered without any follow-up bills in your name. Your days were focused on fun, without any obligations.

As adults, we can create our own simple magic to help drive the dark winter away. Here are my 12 tips on how to achieve it:

Find a Way to Give

Is there a community dinner you can help prepare or serve at? Soup kitchens always need a helping hand and there will be camaraderie among the volunteers.

Offer to Dog-Sit

Do you have a friend going out-of-town or know a neighbor who’d appreciate you taking her dog out for a walk? Dogs love to play, and a walk in nature can elevate your mood. It’s also a great way to meet new people as friendly dogs will make the introduction for you.

Feed the Birds

Winter makes it more difficult for birds to find food. Make a batch of seed and suet balls for them. Hang them on a local bush or tree and watch the birds gather for a feast.

Visit a Hospital

Pay a visit to children or adults stuck in hospital during the holidays. Sing them some carols or read them a book. Making someone else’s day bright can make your own day brighter.

Tour Your Neighbourhood

Walk or drive around your neighbourhood to see the lights on some of the lawns and houses. Identify your favourite and let the home owner know how much you appreciate their cheerful display.

Take a Bubble Bath

Treat yourself to a bubble bath by candlelight. Have your favourite music playing in the background and a cup of tea by your side. Cry, if you feel the need – it reduces stress and releases toxins that you don’t want in your body.

Have a Laugh

Binge watch your favourite comedy shows or funny movies. Dig your hand into a bowl of popcorn. Throw a few kernels in the air and try to catch them with your mouth.

Host a Pot Luck

Invite friends and neighbours over for a pot luck meal. Ask everyone to bring a wrapped gift of something they already own but would like to give away. Exchange gifts.

A twist on this is to insist the gift be something strange or unusual – so everyone gets a good laugh with lots of discussion about its merits.

Stealth Decorate

Go out under the cover of darkness and decorate a local landmark. Tie a red ribbon around a lamp post. Tie sprigs of holly to the railing at the Post Office. Hang scarves for the homeless to find. Become the neighbourhood Secret Santa.

Host a Cookie Exchange

Ask your friends and neighbours to make a batch of their favourite holiday treats. Invite them over to trade so everyone has a variety of goodies to take home.

Shop Local

Give yourself a budget of $20 to $50 and buy a special treat for yourself from a local artist or craftsman. Shopping local boosts the local economy!

Attend an Event

Find out what’s happening in your community. Attend a candlelight service, play, dance, art exhibition, or concert. You’ll likely be able to find plenty of free or low-cost events available.

Be gentle with yourself. Acknowledge your feelings and know that this too shall pass. You might want to use this time to start dreaming about your next summer vacation. That can provide an instant mood-lift. Above all, treat yourself with kindness.

What tips do you have to dust away the blues of this season? What is the most outrageous thing you have done? Please share below.

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