Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more! Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

It’s hard for some of us not to get caught up in the excitement of the holiday season. As Christmas approaches however, there are a few key things we should all keep in mind:

1. Not everyone celebrates Christmas, or celebrates it in the same way.

While those of us who celebrate Christmas look forward to the upcoming holiday, we should be mindful of the fact that it is not a tradition that everyone participates in. We should also respect the fact that there are people whose cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs, personal value systems and upbringing are different from our own, and be sensitive to these differences by not passing judgment or trying to impose our traditions on others.

2. Christmas can be a sad and lonely time for some.

There are people who have lost a loved one this year, are battling a major illness, are in dire straights financially, or have fallen upon other personal hardships. While this shouldn’t prevent us from enjoying the holiday season, we should also keep these individuals in our thoughts and prayers and offer comfort and support to them whenever feasible.

3. The best gifts don’t necessarily cost money.

It’s an old but true saying that the best gifts in life are free. Another year with a loved one is a precious gift. Good mental and physical health is a gift. Life itself is a gift. And of course we know that love costs absolutely nothing!

4. Children should be taught the value of giving and expressing gratitude at Christmas.

The average parent spends hundreds of dollars each year in the effort to make Christmas as special as possible for their children. If only as much time and energy were put into teaching children to give and teaching them to be grateful for what they have – even if it’s not everything they asked for! Whether you have your child donate a gift to someone who is less fortunate, or encourage them to give thank you cards to relatives and friends who bought them something, you will be teaching them that Christmas is about giving and not receiving.

5. Cards, phone calls and personal visits matter too!

Not everyone cares about receiving material items for Christmas. Someone in your life may long just to hear your voice. Someone else would be tickled pink by a brief visit from you on Christmas day. We sometimes have an all-or-nothing attitude about Christmas and underestimate the little things that may mean a lot to certain people who are close to us.

6. Personal safety is imperative.

Holiday shoppers are prime targets for criminals. The stress of searching for that perfect gift or the excitement of finding great bargains can cause one to let their guard down. If possible, do your Christmas shopping with a friend or family member and always pay attention to your surroundings when going in or out of stores and lugging packages into your home.

7. Christmas is a time to give thanks for our blessings.

It’s easy at Christmastime to fixate on what one does not have or cannot afford. But Christmas is the perfect time to count and celebrate our many blessings. If you are fortunate enough to spend the holiday with someone special, let them know how much they mean to you and how blessed you are to have another year together. Take pictures of (or videotape) those special moments so that you will have them to remember and cherish always. Take a few moments to relax and reflect on all that is positive within your life, even if things are not exactly as you would like for them to be. Doing this will make for a much more meaningful and memorable holiday.