Making Gift Selections at Christmas

Many people adore Santa Claus because he brings them the perfect that often produces squeals of joy. Individuals, especially children, are often thrilled to get what they want and need from Santa. To bring joy to others, you also need to not only give a Christmas gift but to also try to get an item that will be a good match for the individual by selecting a gift that suits the person.

It is possible to find the right Christmas gift without having to fall for the easy way out by giving a ‘sweater.’ To find the right gift for Christmas for anyone means a gift has to capture one or both of the following qualities – something that you know the person will like or desire, or something with useful purpose that will captivate the person. A Christmas gift that captivates the receiver will produce a ‘wow’ reaction or comments of ‘that’s cool’ from others, who will be wishing silently that they had gotten such a gift.

The key to selecting a wonderful Christmas gift that will produce a ‘wow’ reaction is to make sure the item is one that will appear interesting to others. The gift itself may have limits to its use. That means it may not be something that will be used frequently, such as a sweater or other clothing. The ‘wow’ factor or coolness of the gift must however overshadow it’s possible limited usefulness.

Selecting a Christmas gift that is desired can prove to be difficult if you think you don’t know what the person wants or needs. But when we think that we don’t really know what someone wants for a Christmas gift, our real thought is that we haven’t really heard the person specifically say they want or desire a particular item. That however is not an obstacle to truly knowing what someone may desire for a Christmas gift.

To help to identify an item that will make a perfect Christmas gift, you need to focus on what you know about the person – various qualities, what leisure activity the person likes, what type of books, art and music for example, do they like. To focus on what you know about the person, think about conversations you have engaged in with the individual. Conversations in general can often give splendid ideas of good gifts to give for Christmas because oftentimes people will say ‘I wish for …..’ when talking with someone else.

The character of the person is also a good indicator of items that will make wonderful Christmas gifts. Remember, a gift for Christmas is a token to show love, fondness or appreciation or some combination of those qualities. An item that captures a quality of a person is therefore likely to be much appreciated. So, for example, books make good gifts for someone who likes to read. But if the person also has a humorous persona, a book on jokes would be a desirable Christmas gift.

For someone who likes to drive, a travel book on scenic routes is likely to create a large amount of interest. A Christmas gift like that also could stir some ‘wow’ remarks as it could easily cause others to want become engrossed in browsing it. A Christmas gift like that also is an example of something that is very useful but which may not get a lot of frequent use.

Another strategy for selecting a perfect Christmas gift is to think of how something will fit into someone’s lifestyle. A friend once recalled that wish another friend often expressed in conversation was for a playstation. But knowing that the friend also didn’t have much leisure time to actually sit and use a playstation, a hand-held game gadget was given instead that could be used during commute on public transportation or in 10-15 minutes of short downtime. Selecting Christmas gifts for friends, acquaintances and loved ones that will be remembered and treasured is therefore not too much of a difficult task if the strategies previously mentioned are kept in mind.

Where To Do Christmas Shopping

Christmas shopping can be seen as an absolute thrill and to some extent, as a necessary evil. It’s a thrill to be out and about amid the sights and sounds of the season and the jovial crowds. But for the same reasons, others dread shopping at Christmas time. These days, you don’t have to leave your home much or at all to get your Christmas and holiday shopping done. That’s because the Internet puts shopping at your fingertips. And rather than competing with traditional retail stores, the Internet has actually expanded the ability of traditional stores to sell more merchandise to a larger number of people in various locations.

Both large and small retailers can be found at their specialized Web sites on the Internet. Most will also offer selections that can be found in the store. Many times online retail sites will have additional items available, or access to additional items, that aren’t found in the store.

Another advantage of shopping by the Internet is that it offers access to stores that are located anywhere. It’s therefore becomes easier to order a unique gift from niche or specialty boutique stores in locations that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach. It is also easy to do comparison shopping using ‘shop bots’ or simply comparing prices yourself.

If Christmas shopping is done through the Internet, you have to pay careful attention to the order times and any cutoff dates to get an item delivered in time for Christmas. Based on anticipated volume, most sites will give a date or the number of hours within which orders have to be confirmed for guaranteed delivery of the items before Christmas.

The mall is a popular place for traditional Christmas and holiday shopping to be done. Malls offer one-stop shopping and have a large variety and wide selection of merchandise, which can minimize endless searching of several stores for some items. They will also be beautifully decorated for Christmas, have splendid displays and a Santa Claus to interact with children. These and other activities that are usually at the mall during Christmas and the holidays also make them an interesting place to take children to enjoy some of the season’s delights.

To maximize shopping at the mall, you’ll need to know the differences between the mall department stores. You’ll need to find out which stores have certain exclusive brands, which stores are moderately priced and which are more upscale.

There are also the specialty standalone stores and spinoff store branches for children and teenagers that seek to fill a particular niche. As an example, stores have emerged that carry only styles related to hip-hop culture or styles that have an ‘urban’ look. So it may be worth consideration to start your shopping at a specialty store, because they are more focused, and then continue at a department store that has a wider selection.

Another interesting place to shop at malls are the standalone kiosks that are usually located at intervals in the open areas of a mall where there is a lot of foot traffic. These kiosks are more likely to carry one-of-a kind and unique items, which can even provide or inspire ideas for Christmas presents. Also at malls will be specialized that offer home/household items, books, music and movies, electronics, sports gear and shoes.

All of the types of mall stores previously mentioned can also be found at Outlet or Factory Malls or Warehouses, which offer lower prices. These stores often carry clearance items from their related mall store, merchandise with minor flaws and merchandise that is made for the outlet. Those merchandise usually have slight style variations from what is found in mall stores and may also be made from different materials.

A final place to consider for Christmas shopping is downtown businesses. They are usually small and intimate, have unique offerings and offer more personalized assistance. Although downtown businesses are also likely to be crowded at Christmas time, there likely will be less of a crush of people like that found at malls.

Shopping During the Prime of the Christmas Season

The saying that goes, ‘The early bird catches the worm,’ is in part true for those who get Christmas shopping off to an early start before the season actually begins. Most of us however, are likely to be average shoppers who wait until that time when the season officially begins. Maybe we don’t have any time before then and we have to wait for a day off from work after Thanksgiving. Or maybe we simply procrastinate and can’t get going until the frenzy starts or until when the stores are all fully decorated and Christmas songs and Carols are playing non-stop to put the thrill and magic into the festive season that is Christmas.

Average Christmas holiday shoppers go out in force and are primarily motivated by the sales that occur during the official Christmas shopping season. These shoppers fully believe they are getting good prices and bargains from Christmas and holiday sales. But it is unlikely that retailers will offer the lowest prices during a time that is prime shopping season.

The lesson for the average and for all shoppers during the traditional Christmas shopping season is to carefully evaluate prices and consider if the item is fairly priced when compared to a the price during other times of the year. If items are simply snapped up during Christmas and the holidays because they are being offered in a ‘sale,’ the shopper may end up busting his or her budget or having ‘buyers regret’ about a purchase.

Those who are average and early shoppers have some time however to get over any unwise purchases because such purchases can be returned and a better choice can be made.

There is however another type of shopper. The late or chronically late shopper is stuck with hoping that ‘Aunt Sally’ or Grandma will like the gift selected, even if the buyer had second thoughts about it after the purchase was made. The late shopper is one who realizes that there us a mere five (5) days – less than a week to go – before Christmas and not a single gift has been bought. Worse off than the late shopper is the chronically late Christmas shopper who is in a mad frenzy two (2) days before Christmas and faces a crisis when a desired gift such as a book has to be ordered and won’t be shipped in time for Christmas.

While those shoppers can get comfort from knowing they will likely benefit from the lowest markdowns of the period, they will also find scanty selections and some items, primarily clothing, that appear a bit worn from all the looking over and handling done by the hordes of Christmas shoppers. But even these late shoppers, who are often procrastinators and who can only be spurred into action by a looming deadline, can execute a strategy to make their Christmas shopping successful. Such a strategy involves more don’ts than things to do.

Late Christmas shoppers should try to avoid having lists that have unusual or hard-to-get items that will need to be ordered. While retailers will offer shipping in time for Christmas, orders usually have to be made before a certain time, for example at least 36-72 hours before Christmas. If items aren’t ordered within that timeframe, there is no guarantee that they will arrive for the big day.

Those who do their Christmas shopping late should also be prepared to find items on their own in stores and not expect to get ‘hand-holding help’ from sales clerks. With only days to go before Christmas and with everyone trying to get their last minute shopping done, it is impossible for most retailers to have enough staff to offer expert or even meaningful help to please the majority of Christmas shoppers.

Soon after the excitement of Christmas Day passes, what frequently is the topic of conversations and what remains memorable in the New Year, is what gifts were received and given. So, in the coming days, it may be worth it to assess the type of shopper that you are and create a plan and strategy to make sure you will be a perfect Santa who will deliver the right gifts to friends and loved ones.

Making an Early Start to Christmas Shopping

Many radio stations have started playing Christmas songs so early in November in the past few years that one wonders if we may soon start hearing Christmas songs around Halloween time. That would be a bit weird, even creepy perhaps. But some early Christmas shoppers likely will have Christmas Carols silently playing in their heads even before then.

That’s because shopping, much like Santa Claus, is a staple of Christmas. Santa never gives away any secrets to shopping for all those gifts, but he must certainly have a strategy to be so successful every Yuletide season. The early Christmas shopper is someone who is very organized and has a strategy to fulfill Christmas shopping before the season kicks into high gear.

The day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday, is the official retail start to a shopping season that is always hoped to be a robust one. The strategy of retailers is to advertise Christmas sales, specials, pre-Christmas markdowns, giveaways, special-hour sales and other promotions. The reason for the frenzy of retail advertising during Christmas season is because it is the single biggest shopping time of the year. Christmas shopping that begins the day after Thanksgiving accounts for well over half – with some estimates of up to 70% — of annual revenue for stores.

Since retailers clearly have a strategy for Christmas shoppers seeking the perfect gift, then shoppers also need to implement their own strategy.The savvy and early Christmas shopper is the one who may start silently singing Christmas Carols and songs very early to get in gear for shopping. Starting from as early as the beginning of October, the early Christmas shopper can begin to make lists of gifts and begin browsing to check the availability, variety, and most important, the price of items.

By browsing before the Christmas shopping season officially kicks off, the early Christmas shopper is more likely to get more bargains, better prices, and is also better able to do comparison shopping when the season officially kicks off.

It’s important to know that retailers won’t offer true ‘rock bottom’ or ‘close-out’ sales, or the very lowest prices during Christmas sales. It’s also important to remember that retailers are likely to offer earlier sales starting in early October to near mid-November.

Two significant pre-Christmas sales are for Columbus Day, which falls on Monday, Oct. 9, and Veterans Day, which will be on Saturday Nov. 11. The early Christmas shopper who already has gifts in mind can benefit from price markdowns during both sales periods. And of course the early Christmas shopper will also have the benefit of shopping during the season, therefore extending the thrill and joy of shopping.

If there is any disadvantage to being an early Christmas shopper and doing Christmas shopping very early, it is that some retailers, particularly makers and sellers of toys, wait until the official start of the season to introduce some new items into stores. The strategy in doing this is to build anticipation for a new toy that they hope will be very popular and to also target and capture a larger majority of shoppers.

During every Christmas season there always is one, or maybe two toys, that are regarded as the ‘must-have’ toys for Christmas. And it has become a present-day phenomenon for shoppers to arrive from the wee hours in the morning to get a prime spot near the doors of some stores so that they can be among the first in those stores to make a mad dash for the ‘hot’ toy of the season.

But being doing or starting Christmas shopping early does not mean that it has to be over before the Christmas shopping season starts. What it means is that most or a significant part of your shopping will be done by the time Black Friday rolls around.

What is most important to making an early start to your Christmas shopping is to get the best deal and to do so with as little hassle as possible, by avoiding a crowded store for example. Both of those will be accomplished for those who are organized and motivated to get into the spirit of Christmas before the season really begins.

Why Christmas is Really All About Children

It could be said that since it was the birth of a baby as a gift to mankind that gave rise to Christmas, then children should also and always be the primary focus of the season. Individual families will say they have always put children first and parents will sacrifice seeking their desires at Christmas to make sure their children are satisfied. And although adults also look forward with much anticipation to the Christmas season, the frenzy that accounts for all the shopping and preparation during the Christmas season is really for the benefit of children.

From a financial perspective, the extensive shopping done at Christmas is really of benefit to businesses. But what really drives the maddening shopping activity is a desire by parents, relatives, friends and acquaintances to play Santa Claus, mainly for children. Within families, children are usually the ones who individually receive the most gifts. And it’s deservedly so because their wide-eyed anticipation, excitement and pure joy when they open their Christmas presents gives everyone an indescribably happy feeling.

Along with playing Santa Claus and secretly getting gifts for children, adults also use the Santa story for all it’s worth as an effective means of discipline. As soon as the Fall season approaches, children will begin to hear warnings about their behavior and the consequence of Santa Claus not leaving any toys or presents like the wonderful ones they received in the prior year. And when the Santa Claus story is not being used to help to get the best behavior from children, it is simply pure fun to delight them by telling them stories about Santa Claus, his elves and reindeers to simply enliven their imagination.The story of Santa Claus is even useful for older children who may just be starting to unravel the mystery of Santa Claus. The stories that tell of different places where Santa Claus actually lives can be a starting point to go on an imaginative journey around the globe and become a geography lesson to learn about those places.

Children are also central to Christmas because the many grand displays of Christmas scenery, colorful lights and sparkling ornaments really target the attention of children. So, if children were not so important at Christmas time, then it is quite possible that many of the traditions that make Christmas what it is would not exist. As an example, Valentine’s Day and holidays related to Easter have a much different mood and atmosphere. Children aren’t the focus in celebrations for those special periods.

Christmas is also an important period for the toy industry whose clients are naturally children. Although the industry is part of the big retail picture and therefore seeks to boost sales during the Christmas season, there is also a deeper meaning for children. Toys are important to entertain, to educate, to help children develop their imagination and to develop coordination and other skills in children. Toys can also help children to play together and learn to share.

The toy industry is therefore important at Christmas time in introducing new products that are integral to the development of children. When children become totally captivated by a new toy at Christmas time, it may help them to learn a new skill or provide new knowledge all in a fun and captivating way that will make it more likely that whatever is learned will be remembered.

Children are also the focus of Christmas celebrations because it is important to create fond childhood memories of the season. These memories are created not by children necessarily receiving a lot, but by enjoying everything about the season. The story of Jesus with the moral of sharing, giving and doing kind deeds for others can also help to build a good character and set a moral foundation that teaches children to have empathy and compassion during the Christmas season and all throughout the year.

Christmas Greetings and Good Cheer

Greetings at Christmas extend beyond a mere wish of ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Holidays.’ Christmas greetings embody a wish that all will go well in whatever preparations need to be made, and a genuine sentiment that much joy, happiness and well being will be experienced by the individual and loved ones during the season.

The season of good cheer and wishes also reflect the jolly ho, ho, ho nature of Santa Claus. To the delight of children, it is very easy for them to run into many jolly fellows dressed as Santa Claus during the Christmas season who will quiz them about whether they have been good or naughty. Many times when friends, relatives and loved ones call each other during the Christmas season, they will speak to the children and wish them Merry Christmas, but not without a warning that they had better be good or else there will be no presents from Santa Claus.

For children therefore, a greeting of Merry Christmas has the purpose of increasing their anticipation for the arrival of Christmas Eve and Santa’s visit to leave toys and Christmas presents under the tree.

Because children also take part in many traditions associated with Christmas, holiday greetings for them is also a reminder of the fun they will have in doing such activities as decorating the tree, helping to bake cookies and wrapping presents. When children have these things to look forward to at Christmas, it creates a lasting memory for them and helps to make their childhood one on which they will later reflect on with much fondness.

The more prevalent greeting of ‘Happy Holidays’ that is used today reflects in part the also prevalent nature to be politically correct in speech and communication. The greeting of ‘Happy Holidays’ can be given to anyone whether or not they celebrate Christmas. It avoids any offense being taken if someone is wished Merry Christmas when it’s a celebration in which they don’t participate or observe.

Happy Holidays is also used to extend a greeting of goodwill beyond Christmas to the coming New Year holiday period. For procrastinators and the chronically late greeting card senders, they can still drop a ‘Happy Holiday’ greeting card in the mail to friends and loved ones close to Christmas Day or even after and it will still be relevant.

Christmas greeting cards play a big role in communicating Christmas greetings and good cheer for the holiday season. It’s a tradition that started in Britain in 1840 with the start of the first public postal deliveries. The production of large numbers of Christmas greeting cards started about twenty years later in 1860 with the improvement of printing methods.

Today, Christmas greetings and greeting cards have further evolved with massive changes and development in technology. The computer, which has become a necessary electronic equipment in just about every home, is commonly used to send Christmas greetings through emailing an online greeting or postcard. Online greeting cards also have brought other changes such as being interactive or animated and they can also be easily personalized with pictures of individuals or families. Online greeting cards can be sent from websites that are accessible to everyone or they can be easily created on a home computer.

Another way in which Christmas greetings are sent is by mailing gifts and presents to relatives and friends who live elsewhere. Except for the dreaded tax season, there is no other time when post offices become more crowded than during the Christmas season. Post Offices therefore play an important role in relaying Christmas greetings by handling thousands of greeting card mailings and gift packages for Christmas.

With just about everyone having a cheerful spirit for the Christmas season, it becomes very easy to pause for even a brief conversation and extend a greeting of goodwill to friends, acquaintances, colleagues, neighbors and others.

Eating Heartily but Consciously During Christmas Season

During the Christmas season, summer and its body-conscious state of mind are distant memories. Hearty indulgence in the many foods shared at Christmas therefore doesn’t produce the same feelings of guilt. Nevertheless, its not a pleasant thought to start the New Year carrying any extra pounds. So why then eat yourself into a resolution to ‘take off a few extra pounds’ if you can smartly avoid it?

Whether it’s sharing cookies and candies at work, or having an evening out at a party or dinner, you can have Christmas food and enjoy it. While you seem to be eating heartily with a smile, the key is to have a secret strategy of moderation. It involves sticking to a plan that can be called ‘Eating on a Budget.’

‘Eating on a Budget’ is not about the cost of what is eaten, but about the quantity of what is eaten. It is important that a ‘budget’ or eating in moderation plan is developed because it is almost impossible to avoid exposure to a lot of cookies, candies and other sweets at Christmas. At work, you may risk appearing like the Grinch who stole Christmas if your response will always be something like, ‘ humbug’ all the time that some Christmas goodies are offered. It will seem as if you aren’t in the spirit of the holidays especially since at that time of year everyone is usually in a festive and more relaxed mood, and the pace at work is usually slower.

A practical way to partake in Christmas goodies, for example, is to substitute some holiday cookies for say the bagel that you usually have with breakfast or for a mid-morning snack. And instead of just taking one cookie, from the platter, which is noticeable and likely will encourage a colleague to tell you to have more, take three instead. That’s where the plan can come into play. You can then enjoy the cookies over two or more hours, because nobody will be watching how you really eat. You can always have a few candies, one cookie or a cookie and a half by your desk and that way it will seem as if you are heartily enjoying the holiday treats.

Another strategy is to bring – bake or buy – low calorie Christmas cookies and candies to work to counteract others that are being offered. Since eating healthy is highly encouraged, health-conscious cookies will not be looked down upon so long as they taste great. A box of sugar-free Christmas chocolate candies for example will look just as delightful as regular chocolate candies. It’s interesting to note that in a poll sponsored by the National Confectioners Association in 2004, chocolate was the favorite food gift that Americans said they preferred to receive for the holidays. The lowly and much maligned fruit cake was last on the list. The second favorite holiday food gift was a fruit basket and a plate of cookies was third on the list, according to the Association.

For an occasion such as a Christmas party or a dinner, including Christmas Dinner, where larger quantities and selection of food is available, the ‘Eating on a Budget’ plan means that serving portions and the choice of food selected should be carefully watched.

At a party where more desserts and sweets are likely to be available, a few of the selections can be sampled. If the urge to try everything can’t be resisted, then do so, but then second helpings have to be severely limited. The same is somewhat true for Christmas Dinners. One big difference is that the food served during Christmas Dinner will be heavier, so by selecting portions wisely, one can always say truthfully that the stomach is full.

And indeed, after a sumptuous Holiday Dinner, your body is likely to be full from food and your soul full of joy from sharing another memorable holiday tradition with family, friends and loved ones.

Making Memories During Christmas and the Holidays

A favorite Christmas song has a line that describes Christmas as ‘the most wonderful time of the year.’ While giving and receiving gifts is something that is highly anticipated and remembered at Christmas time, there are also many more activities that make Christmas memorable and wonderful.

One of these activities is decorating the Christmas tree. The Christmas tree occupies a central spot and is the most visible display of Christmas in most homes. Unlike in other countries, most American homes do not have a representation of the Nativity scene, which is more likely to be located at churches.

As soon as the Christmas season begins on the day after Thanksgiving, families will begin their search for the perfect Christmas tree. This in itself can become a memorable activity as children may accompany family members to places like a Christmas tree farm to select a tree.

Once a real or artificial tree is selected, then it’s an exciting activity for the entire family to play a part in decorating the tree. Manufactured decorations come in many shapes and forms. But a special memory is created when family members make a special ornament for the Christmas tree, or contribute one or more keepsake items to decorate the Christmas tree. It then becomes a ritual each year for those particular items to be placed on the Christmas tree although other decorations may change in coming years.

Another activity that can help to create special memories at Christmas is baking cookies. Along with popular gingerbread cookies, using cookie cutters to make special holiday-shaped cookies is also practiced a lot in households. Based on the ages of children, they can help in the actual baking activity by measuring and mixing some ingredients, or, younger children can sprinkle sugar on the cookies or decorate them with icing when they are finished. Helping in this activity can also be educational as parents can use the activity of measuring and figuring out equivalent measures to teach fractions and other mathematical elements.

An activity that is related to food which also helps to create memories during the Christmas season is making fruit and goody baskets, which are filled with candies, baked items and other treats for loved ones, their special friends, neighbors, teachers or for charity. Items such as goody baskets make especially wonderful Christmas gifts because they are home-made. That quality often makes them more treasured than a Christmas present that is bought at the store.

Because Christmas is the season of goodwill and good cheer, it is very important to reach out to family, loved ones and friends during the season. The busy lives that many people lead today often leaves them little or no time during the year to be in frequent contact with family and friends who are located far away, or even others who live within a reasonable distance in the same or a neighboring state, for example.

It is therefore very common during Christmas to send a Christmas or holiday greeting card to those individuals. Along with the pleasant memory of receiving the card, there may be a short letter included that gives a brief account of any significant event in the individual’s life or with members of the family. That makes sending and receiving Christmas greeting cards more memorable.

Then there’s probably the most anticipated activity of Christmas – finding out what Christmas gift Santa brought on Christmas Eve. While adults also look forward with much anticipation to see what Christmas gifts they will get, it’s really the children who get the most delight from receiving presents at Christmas. The carefully planned actions to hide Christmas presents from children and then to magically place them under the Christmas tree to be found on Christmas morning is one of the most wonderful ways to create unforgettable memories for children at Christmas.

Yuletide Days of Old – Ancient and other Customs of Christmas

Christmas as a holiday period was instituted and celebrated at about the same time as other winter solstice festivities because church leaders at the time believed that would make more people participate in the new holiday period. That objective was achieved, but people also carried over some pagan celebrations and traditions into the religious Christmas celebrations.

As an example, people would attend church and then take part in a raucous, drunken and carnival-like celebration, that has some similarities to Mardi Gras. During this celebration every year, there would be a crowning of a beggar or student as the ‘lord of misrule.’ Those taking part in the activities would pretend to be loyal subjects to the ‘lord of misrule,’ During this time some of the poor would also visit the rich in their houses and ask for some of their best food and drink. Those among the rich who didn’t cooperate would be subject to rowdy behavior and mischief by the poor. For their part, the rich used Christmas as the time when they would reach out to the poorer members of society by tolerating them in such visits or by leaving out food and clothing for them. For many centuries before the birth of Christ and the recognition of Christmas, there had always been celebrations in many countries during the middle of winter. During the darkest days of winter for example, the early Europeans were said to celebrate light and birth. The winter solstice was a period of rejoicing for many people because it meant that the worst part of winter was over and they could therefore look forward to having days that were longer with more hours of sunlight.

In that tradition, the Norse peoples in Scandinavia would celebrate a period of Yule from Dec. 21, which was the winter solstice or start of winter, through January. To recognize the re-emergence of the sun, fathers and their sons would take large logs home and set them on fire. There would then be a big feast until the log was completely burned out. That could take as much as 12 days to happen. The custom also was one of hope for the Norse because there was the belief among them that every spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born in the New Year.

Many parts of Europe also thought that the end of December was a perfect time to celebrate because during that time, a lot of cattle would be killed to avoid having to feed them during winter. For many people, the end of December was the only time during the year when they had a significant amount of fresh meat. By that time of year also, wine and beer that was made earlier in the year would have fermented and be finally ready for drinking.

The tradition of Santa Claus has also been an ancient legend with slight differences or variations in olden days from the 1700s in some countries. In German and Switzerland, children who were well behaved would receive a Christmas present from Christkind or Kris Kringle. Christkind, which means Christ child, was believed to be an angel-like figure that went along with St. Nicholas on his holiday journeys to deliver gifts.

A jolly elf by the name of Jultomten was believed to deliver presents in Scandinavia in a sleigh that was pulled by goats. And in France, Pere Noel is the one who fills the shoes of French children with Christmas gifts, sweets or treats at Christmas time.

In Russia, there’s a legend that Babouschka was an elderly woman who gave incorrect directions to Bethlehem to the three Wise Men so that they wouldn’t find Jesus. She later felt sorry for doing so but couldn’t find the Wise Men to tell them about the error. Today in Russia, it is believed that on Jan. 5, the day before the Epiphany or Three Kings Day, Babouschka visits Russian children and leaves presents by their bedsides in the hope that one of the children will be Baby Jesus and will forgive her.

What Makes Christmas Magical

Christmas is a special time of the year for the joy and intangible magic that fills the season. It comes through in the delightful decorations, glorious get-togethers with family and friends and the sheer feeling of joy one gets from giving and receiving gifts.

Although the commercialization of Christmas is often decried, shopping is an important and central activity to some of the intangible magic of Christmas. It is at the malls or downtown stores that some of the favorite sights, sounds and scents of Christmas can be experienced.

The decorations at Malls and retail establishments are usually very fanciful and eye-catching, especially to children, with the many colorful and twinkling lights. It’s also a wonder for both adults and children alike to look at the numerous tinsels, baubles and figurines such as fairies, angels and little babies that adorn the main Christmas tree in the center of shopping malls and others in department stores. These trees are usually extremely well embellished with decorations that are arranged in a very professional way that most shoppers can’t replicate in their own homes. It’s therefore a delight for them to stare at such trees in wonder and amazement.

Along with the wide variety of decorations in retail establishments, there also is the sound of music playing, bells ringing, the laughter and wishes of Merry Christmas from shoppers that also create a special atmosphere and add to the magic of Christmas. Even the sound of cash registers in the background adds something to the special feeling shoppers have at Christmas time.

And of course there’s always a Santa Claus that children can meet and tell what they want for Christmas, and also have their picture taken. Sometimes Santa Claus may distribute Christmas gifts to children, telling them that because they have been very, very good they are getting an extra special early Christmas present.

The ability to delight children by telling them stories about Santa Claus, as well as making them see and talk to the jolly old fellow, puts a lot of magic and excitement into Christmas. Once the tradition is started, or from the first time that children have been told the story, it becomes something that they look forward to every year during the Christmas season.

There’s also the sound of music from choirs or school groups who often give open performances singing Christmas carols and songs in malls and downtown areas of towns. Families and others who are out and about will pause to listen or to sing along with these groups.

Shopping is undoubtedly an enjoyable activity for most people during Christmas, but merrier and more memorable times are enjoyed when time is spent with family, friends and colleagues during the season. Before Christmas Day arrives, there usually are parties at home and at work, an evening out with friends and other occasions to get together and share the spirit of Christmas. The presence of special Christmas music and people dressed in holiday attire provide a different atmosphere and contribute to the magical feeling of the season.

Another thing that is different at Christmas is the scent from a fresh Christmas tree, of gingerbread and other cookies baking and other food preparations that are specially done at Christmas time. Most people who select a real Christmas tree instead of an artificial one for their homes do so because of the wonderful scent it provides. For many people, that scent from a Christmas tree is what puts Christmas into everything else.

Another popular scent at Christmas comes from the popular Christmas song ‘Chestnuts Roasting Over an Open Fire.’ The actual roasting of chestnuts by families during the Christmas season may be a rare occurrence these days but it is occasionally done in some downtown areas and in bakeries and confectioneries that make fresh products everyday.

All these events, activities, happenings, sights, sounds and scents of Christmas and the holidays create special and unforgettable memories. And who can deny that a pleasant memory is always something that is truly magical.