holiday decorating an act of kindness

Holiday Decorating—An Act of Kindness

My sister, Mary, was the inspiration for today’s post.  During one of our chats, she said, “You know, holiday decorating really is an act of kindness.”  I had never thought of it that way.  But she’s right.   

The Holidays—A Global Phenomenon

The whole world will be celebrating at some point in December and January.  In every corner of the Earth, people will be raising glasses, sharing gifts, tooting horns, and bowing heads in prayer and gratitude.  Ranging from the religious to the unavoidable ringing in of next year, the holidays are definitely upon us.  And all of our senses are probably feeling it by now.

You may have mixed emotions about the holidays.  One topic, in particular, can be quite controversial: holiday decorations.  Are they up too early?  Should they be holiday-neutral to appeal to everyone?  Shouldn’t they reflect the religious meaning behind the holiday?  Do they belong in schools?   Are they worth the money?  Does my family even care?

Embracing Inspiration

Ever since my kids have become more “grown-up,” I’ve slacked off in the holiday department.  I didn’t even carve a pumpkin the last two Halloweens.  I wish I could share the blame with my partner.  But he isn’t from America and grew up with different holidays and traditions.  So, really, the burden does lie with me if I want my family to experience the holidays as I envision them.

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday.  So, this year, embracing my sister’s inspirational thought, I’m trying to be more festive.  Number one on the list—decorations. 

holiday decorating - an act of kindness
Bringing home some holiday spirit

Holiday decorations aren’t just for enticing shoppers.  Their true purpose is to spread joy, which is why they’re utilized across cultures and religions.  There is even research pointing to holiday decorations increasing happiness and mood-boosting hormones, like dopamine.  It is speculated that the change in environment and chromotherapy (color therapy) from holiday lights are contributing factors.  So, yes, decorations can make us happier…but how are they an act of kindness?   

Reasons for the Decorating Season

1. Spark Positive Emotions

It’s clear that holiday decorations increase happiness.  But, they also spark deep feelings of nostalgia, family and tradition for many of us.  These feelings may be mixed; the holidays aren’t always chock full of happy memories.  Nevertheless, it’s a time of reflection.  If more negative than positive feelings are surfacing, it’s time to think about creating some new traditions moving forward.

2. Create Social Connection

According to an article in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, holiday decorations may serve as a means of appearing more friendly and inviting to neighbors.  Spending time and resources on decorations signifies a person’s or family’s value of celebration and sharing those feelings with others.  They foster a sense of friendship and belonging.

3. Bring Joy to Others Selflessly

An enormous amount of time and resources are spent on holiday decorating by businesses and individuals.  And, most often, the person investing said resources is not the beneficiary.  We do it for others.  Our goal is to bring smiles to our neighbors, customers, children, friends, families, and guests.  Holiday decorating is an act of kindness that triggers a ripple effect – infectiously spreading smiles and warm feelings.

“I love seeing everyone’s holiday creations. And I know how much hard work it is. And I also know that you never really see your own house’s lights.  So, you do all this work, but you spend most of your time inside. All the enjoyment goes to others driving by.”

-Mary, my sister

There’s Always Time

We’re a couple of weeks into December now, so most of our holidays are still ahead of us.  And maybe you’re ahead of the game and have already decked your halls.  But, if not, consider holiday decorating from a different perspective – as an act of kindness. They don’t have to be elaborate or expensive. Even the simplest gestures make a bright impact on others when you put your heart into it. 

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