Christmas isn’t like the movies — it’s better!


I’m sure we can all picture the “ideal” Christmas scene: a dimly lit room with the decorations all over the walls, illuminated only by the fire on the logs; snow layering delicately on the window sill; fresh hot cocoa swirling in a bright green mug with a corny message printed across the front; lights and decorations shining in from the street; and a grand Christmas tree, carefully decorated to compliment the spirit of the rest of the room. And I’m sure we can all admit that this is not really what Christmas looks like.

This is the Christmas depicted in your typical Hallmark Channel movie, or the Christmas depicted in your typical feel-good classic. We can all agree that no matter how hard we try, nothing will ever come close to the Christmas we see up on the silver screen.

While this “ideal” Christmas may only be a reality in film, what is reality is so much more than that. The holiday season is only what you make it; if you’re willing to look beyond the absurd disconnect between the Christmas movie world and the real world, you may learn that there are so many delights to cherish beyond the commercialized madness.

How can you make your holiday more meaningful than what you see on screen? It’s not about wishing for more, but instead recognizing what’s already right in front of you. Here are a few things that can make your holiday more special:

How can you make your holiday more meaningful than what you see on screen? It’s not about wishing for more, but instead recognizing what’s already right in front of you.

Snow: I’m not talking about that picturesque Hallmark movie snowstorm, and I’m definitely not talking about that Pennsylvania sludge that comes with the snowfall every year, but we still need to recognize that what we have in between is truly something beautiful. Look out your windows! While you sit here, sulking about the circumstances and yearning for a “better” reality, endless flakes of the perfect packing snow falls from the sky and coats the landscape. Taking your winter coat and snow boots out of retirement to go bask in the real life “winter wonderland” can easily fuel your holiday spirit. I can speak from personal experience when I say that this year’s plentiful snowfall has really given me the opportunity to feel like a kid again; the snow angels silhouetted on the ground and snowmen standing starkly in the backyard can speak for me.

Christmas Lights: You are totally missing out if you don’t immerse yourself in the community’s light displays. While extreme displays are always cool to come across, I’m not talking about houses with staggering electric bills. I’m talking about the average homes, the ones with a few strings of lights and a blow-up santa swaying in the front yard, or the ones with a couple of wreaths resting on the windows and a Star Shower display on their home. Isn’t it fascinating to see the community all come together and participate in something decorative instead of destructive? No matter how little or how much they decide to participate, the homes illuminating the neighborhood at night contribute to such a beautiful scene. It doesn’t have to be Reindeer Lane to light up the community, especially when the sights we have right in front of us are so much more meaningful.

Lots of activities: Whether it be something more involved like ice skating in the city or something like driving through the light displays to Christmas music with hot cocoa, Christmas offers plenty of entertainment. The holiday events are surely not limited to the outdoors, though: decorating, gingerbread house constructing, cookie baking and decorating, ornament making, and arts and crafts of all kinds provide plenty of cheer for those who prefer the warmth and comfort of their home. Sure, your treats and your crafts may not look as perfect as the one that we are supposed to believe was created by a movie’s protagonist instead of by a movie studio’s production team, but that’s not what it’s about. Even if you clumsily mistake the salt for the sugar and your cookies end up tasting like dirt, it’s about the experience. I would know. Christmas isn’t all about creating the most “aesthetically pleasing” scene, but instead it’s about the joy you’re willing to indulge in and share.

Loved ones: If these unrealistic films are good for one thing, it’s that they remind us that the people that we surround ourselves with are truly what make our holiday experiences unforgettable. They show us that the most valuable time is the time that we get to spend with whoever we call family. It’s not often that entire families and loved ones get to reunite, especially under such happy pretenses. Sure, our families may not be as picture perfect as the ones displayed on the screen, but that doesn’t deter from what we have right in front of us. The loved ones we have to spend the holidays with are what makes the season so special; without them, it wouldn’t be the same. Especially with the circumstances this year, it’s important to value your loved ones and remember that it is truly a season of family and love.

Gift giving and receiving: While bizarre in theory, the idea of exchanging gifts can be really meaningful, if done correctly. I love giving people presents, specifically homemade gifts; there’s nothing I love more than getting to give somebody a display of my affection through something personally made for them. Getting to see the smiles on people’s faces is enough to make me feel happy. As an added bonus, you get your own gifts. Don’t lie now: everybody loves getting presents. I know that you excitedly anticipate the gifts you’re going to get, no matter how big or small. It really is a season of love; cheering people’s spirits through meaningful gifts is enough for me to ignore the overarching Hallmark business scheme.

If you’re choosing to cherish what’s in front of you instead of what could be or what would be, you’ll be able to see past the setbacks and really see the holiday for what it is. If you can ignore the idea that people are having a “better” Christmas than you, whether in the movies or in real life, then you will learn that there is no better Christmas than the one you make yourself. Yes, Christmas isn’t anything like the movies. It’s even better.