1. Practice generosity in the form of donating, gift-giving, volunteering, and reaching out by making phone calls and writing. This cultivates cheerfulness and the spirit of mutual reciprocity, without foster overindulgence in consumerism or the intemperate habits of many holiday revelers.
2. Share a prayer or inspirational poem, film recommendation, book or wise quote with someone.
3. Give yourself a gift, whether material or a gift of time and space for some reflection, noble silence, and solitude. Get a massage or take a nature walk.
4. Make group meals and holiday decorating more meaningful. Share prayers or a moment of silence at the table. Or go around a circle and have each person reflect on what has changed in the past year. If decorating a tree or some other part of the home, reflect on what transitions have taken place since you and your family or friends last performed this ritual, and ask have someone different offer a prayer each year.
5. Research and contemplate the meaning of the particular holiday and season and its relationship to your locale and environment. For instance, how was harvest time historically marked in your part of the country? What did the native people do during this particular time, here on this land? I myself often read Jesus’ Gospels during Xmas season and savor the spirit of lovingkindness and forgiveness, inclusiveness and tolerance inherent in Jesus’ heart message.
6. Connect with someone you have difficulty relating to. For example, find some common ground to talk about with a family member you usually have trouble with at holiday gatherings. The enemy, the crisis, the illness can be our best teacher and precipitant for inner growth and transformation.”
7. Do some charity work. Serve food at a shelter, provide food or clothing for those in need, make hospital visits, or visit the elderly or shut-ins.
8. Winnow down your Christmas card and gift lists, as well as your list of obligations. Simplify your holiday scheduling, emphasizing quality time and genuine heart-opening connectedness rather than mere quantity of experiences. Less can be more.
9. Share some form of spiritual practice with others, including mates, children, loved ones, or friends and kindred spirits. Could include listening to sacred music, or practicing together some form of group prayer, meditation, loving awareness-reflections, pilgrimage to a sacred sanctuary or a favorite nature spot, caroling, volunteering, a project to save animals and help protect the environment, etc.).
10. Do inspirational reading and watch spiritual videos, movies, or plays. Some of my favorites, which I actually own and share with friends, include “Little Buddha,” “Kundun,” “Gandhi,” “The Greatest Story Ever Told”, and “Sister Wendy in Conversation With Bill Moyers.” I also like to read the gospels at Christmas time.