They’re back – the holidays. From mid to November to early January, many traditions celebrate. Most of these traditions include some form of gift-giving. How amazing it is to share something meaningful with another to appreciate and celebrate who they are to you and their role in your life. This can make this a most wonderful time of the year – a message that much of the music of the season shares with us.
But with the extreme commercialism that has come to define this season, it is easy to lose sight of the real reason for all of the traditions that celebrate at this time of year. This is a great topic to bring up to the family – to help our kids learn how to decide what giving from the heart means. How we celebrate is entirely our choice – we have the ability to remove or add things to ensure our celebrations are as we want them to be.
Though we have that choice, we can get overwhelmed and intimidated by the commercial voices that tell us how to celebrate the holidays. Don’t give in. Decide early, before the season is fully on you, how you want your celebrations to be. Decide as a family.
Rethinking the “gift”
I regularly see frantic gift-buyers rushing through stores with names of people to buy for. This focus on tangible gifts comes from our national media and commercial marketing that has us believe that lovely diamonds, new cars, electronics and gift cards are the best way to share how you feel about others. Though it activates our economy, what is its true place our celebrations? Gifts are truly gifts when they share something of us in a meaningful way with another.
So, before you buy one more thing, consider the following gift ideas:
- Give the gift of time. Though we may be physically present, the pace of life can frequently make us mentally absent. Make time to fully show up in your relationships. Not only increase your contact – phone and face-to-face – but be more involved and interested in your relationships. Plan events together and really show up. Making time and being present for someone feels amazing. Who needs your gift of time?
- Give the gift of friendship. Redefine what being a friend means to you and show up this way to your relationships. Value them more. Be more involved. Share more. Connect at a deeper level. Say what you feel. Who needs your gift of friendship?
- Give the gift of patience. Manage your comments, opinions and tone. No two of us see the world in the same way so our responses to similar situations will likely be different. Not right or wrong – just different. We don’t have to agree. We just allow others to be who they are and to have the patience not to force them to see things always from our perspective. With our aging parents and our developing teens, patience can work miracles. The great thing about giving patience is that it generally gives you a great gift in return. Who needs your gift of patience?
- Give the gift of forgiveness. Use this time of year to settle an old disagreement, right an old wrong and be the bigger person. Celebrate a renewed friendship or relationship that had felt the effects of ego, emotions and misunderstandings. Forgiving is a gift we give to others because we know they are human and sometimes humans get things wrong. And again, maybe by giving the gift of forgiveness, you may get it back. Who needs your gift of forgiveness?
- Give the gift of acceptance. Life isn’t easy – we are each trying to find our way. What if we were more accepting of others as they define their lives, values, interests and directions? The gift of acceptance is one of the best and most powerful. I received this gift from my grandfather. When I came out, he called to find out how he could learn more about what being gay meant to me so he could support me; he accepted me. That was years ago. I remember this gift every day. Who needs your gift of acceptance?
Rethink your holidays; transform them from commercial events into powerful celebrations of people and relationships. We are on this planet together to learn from each other and to participate together in the wonders of our world. Celebrations are a way to bring us together to help us learn more, connect better and build a stronger sense of community.
What does your gift say about you?
We have been trained that a nicely wrapped present means “I love you.” But spending time, being more forgiving, accepting, patient, friendly and present are more powerful ways of saying that message more authentically – they just get less marketing dollars. Remember this: as you give these, you are changed. You become more present, more loving, more forgiving and more patient. They benefit, you benefit. That is what true celebration is.
This year, instead of letting things say ‘I love you,’ let your voice, heart, time and commitment say it instead. Share this message with your kids to help them redefine what gift-giving means. Wrap all of your “gifts” with a hug. The best holiday gifts don’t cost any money.