I shop like a bull, I charge everything! (author unknown)
Well, let’s hope that is not the mantra we live by! The holidays are a wonderful time to pause and reflect on the many traditions and celebrations that have been passed down through the generations, be it the Christmas Nativity at church or a visit to Santa at the mall. Maybe it was ‘A Christmas Carol’ with our old friend Ebeneezer Scrooge or The Nutcracker ballet. Or your family celebrates Hanukkah and your memories of lighting the menorah each evening, eating festive meals, playing a game of dreidel or making latkes comes to mind. Whatever the memories are, whether they be ours from our childhood with our families or more recent memories we’ve made with our children and grandchildren, we reminisce on those events because it touches our hearts and brings us joy. Christmas and Hanukkah, with all the decorations and lights, the music playing in the background, the amazing scents of the season, be it fir trees or baked goods, or chocolate coins wrapped in gold, it's stimulating to our senses.
Happiness doesn’t result from what we get, but from what we give (Ben Carson)
Let’s face it, the holidays are a time of giving. It’s a time to show love to others in tangible ways. This time of the year it is encouraged by nearly everyone. It is heavily promoted by corporations, Black Friday promotions abound, commercials are incessant. We are bombarded with ads of things we must have and give to others. We will be happy if we receive the newest ‘must have of the season’ and so it goes.
Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others
(Booker T. Washington)
We love to give gifts. It brings joy to watch someone open a gift from us and see their reaction! 2020 was different for most of us. There weren't a lot of get togethers. Families were separated due to the circumstances in our world. Maybe you didn’t give or receive gifts, certainly not to the extent as in times past. So, what is our definition of a gift? Something we buy from the store or order online? How can we give love in tangible ways? In planning this year, rather than filling our homes and the homes of those we love with more items, maybe we should re-evaluate our giving. There are many ways to give, it doesn’t have to be things. What comes to mind from childhood; an item or a memory? Memories are what we hold in our hearts, not things. It is true for our generation and it is true for those who follow us.
Let’s make a memory! Unplug. We have many distractions in our world. Let’s focus on loving those we care about. An idea for giving: create gift coupons for different events, for instance: family movie night, a trip to the zoo, a picnic or going for a hike. You could give 12 coupons, one for each month to come. You can plan around the seasons and events that come up throughout the year. Be creative! Pass down something of yourself to the next generation so they will have a sweet remembrance of you...make a memory that lasts a lifetime. Teach the next generation to be givers of their hearts and time. Love generously. Everyone needs love, now more than ever. Give of yourself, when you do, you will find it is true: It is better to give than to receive. If purchasing an item is what works best for you, shop local at independent businesses, support the little shops that have truly had a rough time, that in itself is giving. Purchase from a non-profit organization that you support. Give gift cards to support your favorite business and bring joy to the receiver as well! Gift cards are exciting to receive, it’s like getting two gifts in one! So this holiday season, let’s plan our giving. Take time to think about what you would like to give to those you love and care for. Giving gifts that are wearable, consumable (a good book, monthly subscription, or food item), or episodic doesn't fill our homes with more things.
Every gift from a friend is a wish for your happiness (Richard Bach)
Finally, if you are one to remember those around you, e.g. neighbors, sheriff's office, firehall, senior center, animal shelter, or many service industry people we encounter individually, etc. a card with a note of appreciation for their hard work and dedication would likely be received with much gratitude.
If you have time, give a few hours volunteering your time to make a difference or give a small donation to help with the increased expenses this year. People need to know they are loved. Acknowledge those you care for and about this holiday season. The past two years have taught us to hold those we love close to our hearts. Give from the heart...
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!