In Search for the Holiday Spirit

When I was little, my grandpa and I read Charles Dickinson’s “A Christmas Carol” together, every single Christmas. This is a story that will always have a special place in my heart. 

You know, when you’re young, there are a lot things you don’t really appreciate. You don’t always know just how special those moments are, until they’re gone forever. I’ll be honest, while I do love Christmas, it just doesn’t feel the same to me since I moved to the States. My grandma always made sure that we follow all these old traditions, and now that we live so far away from each other, it just isn’t the same.

Well.. my views changed quite a bit since my teenage years as well, and I can’t imagine following some of those old traditions (like keeping a live carp in a tub, just to kill it later and serve it on Christmas Eve).

So, for many years now, I’ve been chasing that Christmas spirit, hoping to feel that overwhelming excitement I once felt as December 24th approached. I don’t think it’ll happen until my entire family is able to get all together once again, but Christmas still remains one of my favorite times of year. And what a better way to get yourself in a festive mood than by playing some of your favorite holiday movies?

A Christmas Carol (1984) is one of my favorites to watch, for obvious reasons. Watching it, is almost like traveling back in time for me. If I close my eyes tight enough, I can picture myself sitting on the living room floor of my grandparents’ house, next to my sister, watching  it play on TV while we snack on oranges and run to the kitchen, every so often to check if our grandma could use some help. From time to time, we’d check on our grandpa, too, who could usually be found in the garage. He’d always keep a stash of candy and chocolates down there and would give us handfuls while whispering “just don’t tell your grandmother, or I’ll be in trouble!”.  It’s a Wonderful Life is a close second favorite. Both stories are timeless and kind of make you reflect on life and fill you with gratitude.

Also, it wouldn’t be Christmas in our household if we didn’t watch Love Actually. I just saw it for the first time about three years ago and it became an instant classic for me. It’s a perfect holiday movie if you want to do all three: laugh, cry and feel super cozy. Of course, this year I found it a little difficult to watch it, as we lost brilliant Alan Rickman, but it makes me cherish this movie, that much more.

Other than movies, cooking and preparing some of my favorite holiday dishes is what also puts me in a festive mood. The smell and the warmth that fills the entire house when you do some holiday cooking is something that can’t be replaced (not even with a sugar cookie scented candle!).

With everything that’s happening around the world, especially in Aleppo, I find it difficult to feel at peace. The other day we went food shopping for the week and while I walked between the isles, loaded with candy and chocolate and cakes, and all the happy kids running around, I couldn’t understand how we get to live peaceful lives, while so many children are suffering in ways we can hardly imagine. If you can, please consider donating to places like UNICEF and keep all those who are suffering in your prayers. Maybe there’s someone in your neighborhood that needs help? Maybe there’s someone you love but haven’t spoke to in a while, because you’re holding a grudge? I think that giving is what makes this time of year special- whether it be a meal for someone in need, a donation, a helping hand or reaching out to someone you care about.

I hope that this holiday season is filled with love and peace for all of you. Remember that even though sometimes things don’t work out the way we want them to, even though we sometimes get lonely or sad or think that life is unfair, we all have a whole lot to be grateful for.

  • Janet

    This is such a wonderful and thoughtful post. You really are a warm person…I’m sure your time with those grandparents helped shaped you into the young woman you are today.

    I can’t wait to watch Love Actually every year. My husband and I always try to decide which couple and scenario we like the most. Ha! Each year it changes. I also love to watch the old movies, not all classics. TCM is great and of course, Hallmark!

    Sending all this best this holiday season and a Merry Christmas to you and yours, Paula!

    Jane x

    • Thank you so much Jane for your kind words!

      Love Actually is such a fun movie to watch this time of year, I always watch it with my husband, too. The cast really is incredible and I love how all the stories eventually connect. Ah, yes the Hallmark channel! Always great for some holiday movies :)

      Thank you Jane and Merry Christmas to you and your family! Hope this time of year is filled with love for you! x

  • This is such a lovely post! It is sad that youre not able to get the whole family together, but I’m sure you’ll see everyone again one day.

    We live in such horrible times but it’s so nice to see that you’re moving forward and looking at the positives. I had lost a bit of faith in humanity this year and since watching Planet Earth, but I’m trying my best to get over it and do whatever I can to help even if it’s just planting some flowers to help the bees or donating things to charity.

    But I’m also struggling to find the Christmas spirit but no doubt I’ll feel a little something on Christmas Day!

    Lizzie Bee //

    • Thank you Lizzie!

      I think that things aren’t as bad as they once were, the news just travels very fast these days, which is why we’re aware of everything that’s happening around the world. I think that there are a lot more good and amazing things to love about other people, but it’s something that’s easy to forget at times.

      I’m sure you’ll start feeling the Christmas Spirit very soon, do what I did and put on a god holiday movie or some holiday music :)

  • Beautiful post! I thin a lot of people feel the same at Christmas, I’ve definitely struggled with Christmas spirit the last few years!

    Rachael xx.

    • Thank you Rachael! I think me getting older might have something to do with it too. Everything is more magical when you’re a kid :)

  • I love It’s A Wonderful Life so much! One of my favourite films xxx

    ALittleKiran | Bloglovin

  • Bernadette
  • Lovely post! We’ve kept up our Lithuanian traditions here in Canada, and it just wouldn’t feel like Christmas to me if we were eating the foods I’ve grown up with! But movies are definitely a good staple that don’t change over the years :) Xx

    • Oh we still keep a ton of those traditions, but definitely not all of them. I never liked carp anyway haha :)

  • Sophie

    I watch Love Actually recently and it was difficult to watch with the sad loss of Alan Rickman :( Sophie x

  • Great post! Christmas movies are my absolute favorite, I can’t get into the spirit without them! I think my favorite has to be either the Grinch or Polar Express.
    xx Dany | The Queens Empire

  • Christmas films definitely help me to get in the Christmas mood, as do Christmas songs! Great post gal x

  • Yeaaaah… I am still not feeling it. Have never not felt it like this year, I think, not sure why. I don’t really mind though. It is what it is :-)

  • Well Christmas just isn’t feel as good as when we were young, right? :/ Still, I like the holidays. I feel like everything is a little better and it’s a good time for most families. Happy holidays! :)

    Lyka Chiang

  • Jacqueline Sin

    Ahhhhh I need to watch Love Actually again before or on Christmas day <3 Christmas movies get me into such festive moods and they are my favourites xx

    Jacqueline | Sail Away to Neverland ♡

  • Love Actually is definitely a must for me! Also Elf and Home Alone. It’s A Wonderful Life is what my boyfriend and I try to stay awake for on Christmas Eve. I usually end up failing miserably lol

    And it is tough to think about everything that is happening all over the world. I wish, aside from peace always, that around this time of year everyone could just come together and enjoy the spirit of the holidays, whichever one it is they celebrate.

    Katie |