When it’s hot and humid outside, snow and gift-giving might be the last thing on people’s minds. For holiday lovers, though, Christmas in July offers the promise of cooler days to come and can also be a fun way to beat the heat.
Christmas in July is often enjoyed with irony, and there’s a delirious sort of pleading that can come from singing “Let it Snow” while watching steam rise off area sidewalks. But there are also many reasons to celebrate this awkward midsummer holiday.
Timing-wise, mid-year is a good time to reassess goals for spending, saving, giving and practicing gratitude.
From a budgeting standpoint, planning five months ahead for holiday expenses can help keep finances on track. Holiday budgets have a way of spiraling out of control the closer we get to Christmas, and the rush to find a last-minute gift can mean spending more than you want to.
In November, nerdwallet.com reported that U.S. shoppers were planning to spend an average $776 for holiday shopping, which was $116 more than they planned to spend in 2017.
“The holidays carry so much excitement and emotion, and for many of us, spending is part of the celebration,” Nerdwallet Personal Finance Expert Kimberly Palmer said in the report. “That’s why getting an early start on budgeting is so important.”
Thinking ahead can also allow for more variety of gift-giving options, such as hand-making unique, heartfelt gifts or planning out fun ways to make memories with loved ones and give “the gift of time.”
Midsummer can be a great time to find some deals on last year’s Christmas decor and this year’s hot items.
At Snow & Ice Christmas and Gift Store, at 4080 Evelyn Byrd Ave., # 102, in Harrisonburg, July is when many locals and tourists shop for personalized Christmas tree ornaments, said Natalie Pittington, an employee at the store.
“There’s not so much of a crowd,” she said. “They can relax and not feel like, ‘Oh, we have to get this done now.’”
The store also offers discounts during the summer to clear away stock and make way for new shipments, she said.
The Christmas Sleigh, at 5 E. Washington St. in Middleburg, sells a lot of ornaments in the summer, but otherwise views summer as a slow time for Christmas shoppers, said owner Dieter Rausch.
Instead, he notices higher sales of German-made gift items, like pewter, cuckoo clocks and German-style clothing.
It might be Christmas year-round at his shop, but during the summer, he said, “Nobody have Christmas in their mind.”
Keeping the ‘spirit’
Christmas can be a magical time of happiness and goodwill, and after a season of celebration, some feel the call to make that feeling last all year long.
Helping others and practicing gratitude are a couple of ways to make that happen.
Giving to others and appreciating what we have are powerful ways of battling depression and finding purpose, said April Lubkemann, a licensed clinical social worker and clinical manager of the senior outpatient program at Shenandoah Memorial Hospital in Woodstock.
Through the hospital’s intensive senior outpatient program, Lubkemann works with patients 55 or older who are dealing with grief, chronic illness or mobility issues.
“We use gratitude and self-compassion,” she said.
Faced with questions like “How do you adjust to your new normal?” she said she offers patients an “emotional toolbox” so they can build positive coping skills and be better prepared for issues that are likely to arise in their lives.
It’s about “retraining people’s brains,” she said. When patients are struggling with self-defeating thoughts, she said the program helps them “negate those thoughts that come into your brain that trigger symptoms that are not helpful.”
She said those who see Christmas as a joyful time might find its message therapeutic at any time of year.
One popular holiday activity is giving to charity or donating one’s time, and Lubkemann said she stresses the importance of giving as patients think about expanding their impact around the community.
When people withdraw from society, she said they might feel like they don’t have the emotional capacity to give to others while also dealing with their own concerns.
Overcoming that negative self-talk is “one of the magical things” that the program offers.
“We’re social creatures,” she said. “We know that it’s really important to get out.”
For those who can’t donate time or money, she said even little actions make a big difference. Letting someone go ahead of you in the grocery store line is a way of “paying it forward,” she said.
It’s a small gesture, but it makes a noticeable impact in the moment and has the capacity to lead to other good deeds.