When our children were young we decided to change how we celebrated Thanksgiving by going out into the community and serving others. What a life-changing experience. To this day we have a desire to be involved with those less fortunate than us. It keeps our problems in perspective to what is going on outside of ourselves.
As for Christmas shopping....well, I started a new tradition a few years back that puts the shopping all on the receiver of the gift. No, it's not gift cards, well yes, in the stockings, but not for gifts. Our family has been so very blessed that we limit how much we receive anymore. One year my daughter said she didn't need or want anything for Christmas because she had everything she needed. My son felt the same. So, now we look to the giving guide of no more than four presents (which actually comes out more like two in our family); want, need, wear, read. Since our kids are grown, we tend to lean towards the need and read categories. Therefore, the receiver must provide the information or they giver can't go shopping.
So what does any of this have to do with being jolly? Well, since stress seems to be on the rise in our society and only getting worse around the holidays, we need to STOP and make time to be jolly. Many people are not happy at all during this time because they have lost loved ones and just cannot get back that joy that they have lost. We need to STOP and help someone else be jolly. Giving joy and love is the best way that I have found to be happy. Make time for yourself and others less fortunate than you.
OK....but this is a musical site. Where is the connection? Ah, music. Music soothes the soul, tames the savage beast, brings back memories, helps with all sorts of medical problems, and is just one thing that I do not think our society could live without. For me, singing and playing piano are a sort of therapy. I can realize and release all sorts of emotions while engaging in a musical experience. I recommend that if you are musical, you give back to your community in a musical way. Play or sing holiday songs at a retirement center or respite center, the hospital lobby, at the fire and police stations, at church, in a community senior center, or just for your family.
The family that "plays" together, stays together.