In 14 steps (and 3.5 hours, give or take) you too can find the Christmas Spirit!
Have you ever experienced one of those days that you just have to share with others? That's how I felt yesterday after living the kind of day (well, 3.5 hours) most Christmas stories are written about.
I decided to break it down into the 14 steps to finding the Christmas Spirit in hopes it can help bring a little magic (or comedy relief) to your holiday season, too.
How To Get Into The Christmas Spirit Fast
1. Live within your means.
This past weekend, my husband, daughter and I took a much-needed daycation shopping trip to Montreal. In one store, I found some cute quilted leather winter gloves, tried them on and then thought:
"No, I don't need these. I already have a nice leather pair I bought from JCrew a few years ago that are still in great shape and plus; there are better things to be spending money on, especially this time of year".
Soo, back on the shelf they went.
Later that day, we enjoyed a much cheaper, impromptu horse carriage ride. Bucket List? ✔️.
Living within your means and respecting resources is the first way to appreciate and afford those special holiday moments more often. It's also the reason why I have this story to share, because if I had bought those gloves then, the rest of this Christmas Spirit story would've transpired much differently, if at all.
2. Be thankful every time fortune shines on you and don't take it for granted.
I'm a horrible procrastinator when it comes to gift-buying, so when Monday came around, I was mostly gift-less and sifting through all of the online ads for the local stores to find some ideas.
I was lucky enough to find the perfect gifts for my husband and daughter:
And one was even on sale for almost 50% off. (Thank you very much!)
I spent a bit too long deciding what I was going to get, however, so I had to delay my shopping trip until Tuesday, which gave me more time to set up my shopping lists and routes.
I set up my game plan:
Multiple stores, prioritized based on potential crowd size and item popularity, arriving at the first store at opening time. (I take my gift procrastination way seriously).
Tuesday morning, the first thing I scored was the very last 50% item on the shelf. (Thank you!) See? It pays to take procrastination seriously.
As I left the store, I put on my old leather gloves for the short drive across the huge plaza parking lot to the next store (this becomes important later on.)
Being thankful helps us appreciate the good things that come our way, because, let's face it- life doesn't always work out that way and eventually, the best-laid plans can seemingly go all wrong, which brings me to the next step.
3. Have patience and faith.
Arriving at the next store, and putting my gloves securely in my pockets along with my phone, ponytail holder, and car keys, I made the very long jaunt across the parking lot, because they were bustling.
Inside, I made a beeline straight to the area for my daughter's gift- the item was missing. I checked shelf after shelf and eventually stumbled upon a salesperson who told me that the person who usually worked in that department was currently on break but would be returning in 15 minutes. So, I waited.
In the meantime, I found a backup gift, "just in case," that wasn't anything close to what I had planned. The salesperson returned from her break and confirmed my fears:
The were sold out.
However, she said that another location across town probably still had it, but that she couldn't confirm this without having the item number to call them to check. So, I held on to my backup item (in spite of the fact that I knew I only had so much cash on me, no card, and would need to return it if the other store had what I needed).
I pulled my phone out of my pocket to check my list and picked up the rest of my items, was elated to find self-checkout open with no line so that I could rush out to the other store across town, rang up all of my items, and then noticed the sign on the machine:
Debit and Credit Only.
After suspending my order and waiting in a very long cashier line, I decided to take a leap of faith and asked her to remove the backup item from my transaction.
I hastily made it back to my car, forgoing putting my gloves back on because the next store was just across the street in yet another plaza, and I figured I could fit that in pretty quickly before heading across town.
Without patience and faith, events may not unfold in seemingly miraculous ways, as they did for me. And I think that may be what's really at the heart of the Christmas Spirit.
4. Pay attention.
Leaving the parking lot, needless to say, I was a little flustered. I'd already spent almost an entire hour in a store that didn't have what I came there for. And sitting at a red light only to cross a dead-end street with barely any traffic, didn't make it better.
It also didn't make it better that the light wouldn't turn green. Seriously. The light for oncoming traffic even got a red light at one point- clearly, the point in which my light should've turned green. I considered that perhaps I'd pulled my car up too far, so I backed up to try to set off the lights:
So, after ensuring that nobody was anywhere close to collision (I was the only person at this intersection for a good five minutes or so), I ran it; and made it to store number 3.
Paying attention can save us a whole mess of trouble in the future, especially around the holidays. It may give us a moment to reflect on something we may otherwise be missing and see things we may not otherwise see.
5. Appreciate the kindness of others.
Arriving at the third store for a couple of quick items, I rushed out of my car, worried about how much time I'd just lost at the red light, task at hand.
Immediately upon entering the store, I was greeted by a warm and friendly salesperson who smiled and gushed:
"I LOVE the color of your purse! It's beautiful!"
I couldn't help but respond with a surprised "Thank you!!" in return.
After my luck or lack of it, with getting my daughter's gift, the checkout fiasco at the last store, and the red light from hell that refused to change, I was honestly elated to have some kindness shown at that moment.
One of the items I had came there for was unfortunately sold out, but they promised that they would be restocking it within the week. They even offered to call me when it arrived if I liked.
I thanked them but said it wasn't necessary to call and that I'd just return later in the week. I left with a smile and was starting to feel my luck turning around.
Appreciating the kindness of others is especially important during the holidays when we're feeling most stressed and cash and time-strapped. It can also create a little magic on its own, because when you appreciate kindness, goodness seems to want to pay you a visit that much more often. And isn't that what the Christmas Spirit is all about?
6. Keep your priorities straight.
Store number four from my original list was right next door to store number three. I admit, I was tempted just to stop in there, grab what I needed, and then head across town for my daughter's gift.
But I didn't.
I knew that if I made that choice and ended up empty handed for my daughter's gift, in the end, I would've been blaming myself. And who needs that guilt during the holidays?
I drove to the store across town, went to put my gloves on before getting out of my car, and then realized my right one was missing- the same pocket I put my phone, ponytail holder, and keys in.
I decided to try searching for it after I got back to my car:
I made the right choice.
I found EXACTLY the item I was looking for, and checked out in less than 5 minutes- there wasn't a single person waiting in line to pay for their items before me. (I have no idea how this happened). I couldn't have been luckier. The cashier even smiled and wished me a "Merry Christmas!".
Keeping your priorities straight can make the holidays so much easier. It saves us from feeling unnecessary guilt and can lead to some pretty magical things happening. No lines at almost noon at a busy store the last week before Christmas? Yeah, it can happen.
7. Never be too busy or poor to give.
Getting a bit worried about where my glove was, running behind on my shopping, and still having to circle back to the store formerly known as four, now five in this new scenario, I just wanted to get back to my car.
There was a Salvation Army bellringer at the end of my checkout line with a gentleman in front with his cart. I thought to myself:
"Bah, he's giving something, I've lost a glove somewhere, and I'm already running behind, I'm good."
And I kept on walking.
I made it about five steps past before I thought to myself:
"Don't be that person. Look at how lucky you've been? You got exactly the items you wanted, and have a little extra money to give since you took that leap of faith earlier with canceling your backup gift."
So, I reached into my wallet, grabbed a dollar (because that's what I could afford to give while still being able to shop at store number five since I planned it pretty close), and dropped it in the kettle.
Taking the time or money to give is of particular importance this time of year. No matter how small or insignificant you may feel regarding what you can afford to give or do for others, every little bit helps. And that's all part of the magic of the Christmas Spirit.
8. Slow down.
I walked back to my car, retracing my steps and making sure I didn't somehow drop my glove somewhere in the parking lot on the way into the store. I searched the side of the car. In the seats. On the sides of the seats. In front of the seats. Underneath the seats. In my bags.
I was hoping that I was going to find it in my car because the last place I had them on at was store number two (the place that was bustling), which meant that I had to go back to store number three as well.
It was at this point that I texted my husband:
"Running around like crazy- things didn't work out exactly as planned. Also, lost a glove, going to retrace my steps."
"Don't lose gloves."
"Yeah, I know...they were the good ones, too. I've been to five different places today. I got most everything I needed, just had to stop more than I thought."
Rushing is especially problematic during the holiday season and can lead to a lot more problems than if we just take a little extra time. Or in my case, can at least result in a lost glove.
9. Take time to reflect.
So, back to store number three I went- this was the store with the super-friendly salespeople. My former parking spot was taken, so I parked nearby and searched the lot:
I scoured the walk up to the storefront:
I went inside, searched their small shop to see if it was somewhere on the floor, and asked the salesperson if they'd seen a glove or had anyone turn it in:
I thanked them and headed back to my car to drive to the super-crowded store number two.
It was at this point, as I was approaching the red light from hell- that one that earlier had refused to change, I wondered:
Was the light staying red earlier to try to get me to circle back for my glove? Some magical, spiritual, or karmic thing? Or, was this red light just not working properly and I was going to be sitting at it for another five minutes before deciding on running it again? I figured this was the moment of truth.
After less than a minute, the light turned green.
Taking time to reflect, especially during the holidays, can help put things into better perspective. Maybe something earlier in the year that you thought was terrible ended up being a blessing in disguise. Or perhaps something you thought was great ended up falling short. It's a good time of year to evaluate our lives and, maybe, keep a more open mind in the future.
10. Be grateful for what you didn't lose.
I couldn't exactly recall where I'd parked at store number two before, so I parked in the general area and scoured the parking lot a bit as I walked in. I figured it probably fell out in the store since this was the only store I reached into my pocket to retrieve my phone to check my list.
I asked a salesperson if they had a lost and found, and they directed me to customer service.
It was at this point I was again stuck in a very long line going nowhere. I texted my husband:
"No luck so far. I'm waiting in a very long line for customer service to see if they can contact me if it shows up."
"This is where I lost it, though."
"That's what I get for trying those leather gloves on in Montreal, thinking, oh I have enough leather gloves already."
"Or for not putting them in your pocket."
"They were in my pocket, but probably fell out when getting my keys or phone."
It was at this point I began to honestly and strangely feel grateful, because out of the other items in my pocket, losing my keys or my phone would've been far worse- I wouldn't have been able to finish my shopping if that had happened.
I was suddenly, genuinely thankful, because if given the choice of losing something, I would've chosen my glove out of those three. I started to feel extraordinarily lucky.
Being grateful for what you didn't lose can be a difficult thing around the holidays, especially when we've lost something truly significant- a loved one, a job, our health, and so on. But it can be the most important step we take in welcoming the Christmas Spirit and recognizing the fortune that has shined on us throughout the year.
11. Appreciate others' time.
Customer service said they hadn't had anyone turn in a glove, but would take my name and number and call me if it showed up. I thanked them and decided to retrace my steps through the store.
I thought, maybe, just one more time I'd check the parking lot. I searched and searched and then, there it was:
My ponytail holder.
I checked my pocket just to be sure, and yes, it too was missing. The parking spot this was in was a little off, however, since I had previously parked in the space behind it. It was then that I figured someone must've driven over it to have moved it to the next spot.
The car owner, where my ponytail holder was, arrived almost immediately after. I asked her if she'd seen a glove along with the ponytail holder and showed her the one I had left.
"No" she replied, "but that ponytail holder was here when I arrived."
We looked under her car- nothing. I looked under the car that was parked in my previous space- nothing.
If she hadn't shown up, I probably would've still wondered if I'd missed it somehow and continued wandering the parking lot a bit more. So I'm grateful that she took the time with me during a busy day for a stranger who lost their glove.
Appreciating the time that people give us, whether it's family, friends, or complete strangers, is an important part of the Christmas Spirit. Time is the most valuable thing we all have, and yet, probably the most underappreciated when shared and given.
12. Let go of what you lost.
It was at this point I decided to let go and move on. I accepted the fact that my glove was simply gone- it seemed pretty obvious at this point. And I'd done everything I could do to recover it. No regrets.
Fortunately, I had a second set of worn, leather gloves back at home, so I didn't have to buy a new pair or anything. They just weren't as nice as the one I had lost. Sometimes things just happen.
I thought, sure:
Maybe if I hadn't rushed through all the stores.
Maybe if I had taken the time at the red light from hell to put my gloves on I would've realized they were missing then and turned back in time.
Maybe if I did those things, the rest of my day might not have worked out so well, and I may have missed getting my daughter's gift.
And in that light, well, it seemed like a worthy sacrifice. It is, after all, just a glove. Christmas is another story.
Letting go of what you lost can be easy if you haven't lost much, but it's tough during the holidays if you've lost someone close to your heart or your financial security and so on. Letting go of those things may take years, and may not happen at all. But if you can try to live just one day of your life letting go, like Christmas, then maybe next year you can live two days of your life letting go and so on. You'll never know if you don't try.
13. Think about others.
With the missing glove out of my mind and coming to accept things as they were, I headed back across the street to my last stop. Yes, the red light from hell turned green again, in case you were wondering.
I wanted to get the last few stocking stuffers for my husband and daughter, and although I had an idea of things I wanted to get, I wound up perusing the entire store trying to find those last little perfect items that I didn't even realize they would need until I saw them.
I spent three times as much as I had originally planned- I thought I'd use the extra money from the out-of-stock item from the third store, although I'd only be left with a dollar or so afterward, I still had a couple of days to get more cash before heading back there.
I guess, overall, I was finally starting to get into the Christmas spirit :D
Thinking about others and taking our thoughts away from ourselves, is at the heart of the holidays. It's what genuinely gets us into the Christmas Spirit and, if you're as fortunate as I am, that's when the Christmas Spirit finds you.
14. The Christmas Spirit Finds You
Heading back to my car and ready to call it a day for shopping, three things happened:
1. I rechecked my wallet- I should've had maybe a dollar at this point. (Because I calculated all of my shopping in advance, including taxes- yeah, I'm weird.)
Instead, I somehow had $18 left.
2. I checked my phone and got a text regarding my gloves from my husband:
"We will get you another set."
3. Just at that time, I opened my car door, and on the floor in front of the driver's seat:
There was my missing glove.
I'm sure these can all be explained:
1. Somehow, somewhere along the way I either wasn't charged properly for my items, got discounts, or maybe I mistakenly left the house with more money than I thought. I mean, I did count it three times, but who knows.
2. My husband loves me and doesn't want me worrying about tracking down a lost glove like a crazy person all day. Seems reasonable.
3. I'll be honest, I have no idea. Seriously, no clue. My glove wasn't in the greatest shape either, had stuff all over it like it had been laying on the ground somewhere. But it could be that I was stepping on it the whole time I was driving, etc. How I missed it? No idea.
I texted my husband back:
"No worries...you know, I really think I have a guardian angel or something. Like, before I left the second store the first time, the light wouldn't turn green. Waited forever and then thought, fuck it, and ran it. Kinda thought maybe something was telling me to go back in hindsight."
"Then, I search my entire car, retrace all of my steps, even find my ponytail holder, but nothing."
"So I go to the final store to get the last few things, open my car door, and guess what?"
"My fucking glove is on the floor driver's side."
"Like, I looked everywhere in my car. Weird."
"So no worries, I have gloves. ;D"
So what's the definition of the Christmas Spirit, you ask? Good question:
Before yesterday, I would've said it was about saying "Merry Christmas!"
Or spending time with family and friends.
Or buying gifts.
Or singing carols.
Or any of those other things that are typically referred to as "Christmassy" and in the "spirit of the holidays."
But I don't think it can be limited to just a list of things. I think it's just one of those moments that you know it when you see it, that evolves over time.
And it's not anything you necessarily schedule or plan for.
The true spirit of Christmas finds you.
But if you follow the steps above, I hope you'll find that a little Christmas Spirit can happen for you, too.
Have you found your Christmas Spirit? Do you have any other tips or stories you'd like to add? Share your experience with us!