Experiential Lessons for the Christmas Season: Going Beyond the Presents

It’s been said there are two types of people in the world. Those who believe there are two types of people in the world and those who do not!

When it comes to this time and season of the year, I believe there really is only one type of person.

That person understands, despite the hype, that gift giving is secondary to many other more personally satisfying holiday experiences, such as:

Quality time spent with family and friends


Deep spiritual connections

Sumptuous food

Time away from the regular work ritual

But wait…my hypothesis assumes all of us know that the power of experiences exceeds the power of gift giving or gift receiving. If that’s the case why are so many people frazzled by the pace of the season or so disengaged that they adopt a “Grinch-like attitude.”

For those who feel frazzled

A lifetime ago, I read a book that helped me take a different view on the Christmas holiday season and center myself on the lasting experiential elements. I was so taken by the messaging in the book that I volunteered to provide talks in keeping with the title of the book, Unplug the Christmas Machine. While somewhat dated (the revised edition came out in 1991 – I told you it was a lifetime ago), the core messages are timeless.

The essence of the book can be summed up in what the authors refer to as a Christmas Pledge. If you are feeling harried as opposed to enlivened by Christmas, you might want to make the following pledge to yourself:

The Christmas Pledge

Believing in the true spirit of Christmas, I commit myself to…
* remember those people who truly need my gifts
* express my love in more direct ways than gifts
* examine my holiday activities in the light of my deepest values
* be a peacemaker within my circle of family and friends
* rededicate myself to my spiritual growth

For those who feel Grinch-like

If your holiday challenges are less about the pace of the season and more about a negative or cynical view, I strongly recommend an article published in the Huffington Post titled What ‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas!’ Can Teach You About The Holidays.

Borrowing from the storyline of the Dr. Seuss classic, the Huffington Post piece posits seven key lessons:

  • Don’t be a Grinch. In essence, spoiling other people’s fun sabotages your own.
  • Always be open to growing your heart during the holidays. I would add “and year-round.”
  • Friends can come from the most unlikely places. Think in terms of the Grinch and Max, the dog with his fake antlers attached.
  • Don’t forget about the holiday trifecta: Noise! Feast! Sing! There is a time and place for everything and the holidays are certainly a time for music and a home filled with the sounds of the season.
  • The holidays are all about the importance of community. Whether that community is family or larger.
  • No presents doesn’t mean no Christmas. Warm human connections trump material things!
  • Good food and good company make everything better. Well, maybe not a diet but that’s what new year’s resolutions are for…

I stand behind my initial thesis – EVERYONE wants more from Christmas than presents!

To make this happen, it’s up to us to unplug the Christmas machine, take the Christmas pledge, and learn positive lessons from the Grinch.

As a customer experience consultant, I’ve always known that there is more to business than products/services – there is an emotional experience that envelopes the products and services you deliver to your customer!

From my team, at The Michelli Experience, we hope you are enveloped this season by family, friends, love, and joy!

Smoke over black background

Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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