Good news! I survived Thanksgiving without any food maladies. I couldn’t be happier or more grateful. It was a quick holiday of family, food, and festivities — and just like that we’re heading from Thanksgiving toward Christmas. In doing this, I’m striving to hold onto that feeling of gratitude for all that I have and not let the concerns of dollars affect how much or what I give this season.
How about you? Are you on a gift-giving budget this year? The thing about budgets is I think it gives us the opportunity to be more creative. When I can give anything, then the options are unlimited. The latest gadgets scream at me as I pass by them on the shelves of my favorite shopping haunts. But when funds are limited, for whatever reason, then I wonder just what little Johnny really wants under his Christmas tree year.
Already my list is shorter this year than most years. Most of my family and friends give to children only, with adult gifts being a gift card, homemade baked goods, or something funny that can be recycled and re-gifted the next year. Thankfully, the grandbabes’ gifts are almost complete. So, that leaves me thinking about hubs, my best friend, and possibly that random person that I can’t resist getting that one thing for that I know they’d love.
The question that is forefront on my mind is how do we celebrate the gift of love when everything seems to be so commercialized. How do I conscientiously choose a gift that speaks love rather than glam? How can anyone choose a gift that is meaningful rather than rushed, speaking “store-bought” all over it? How can I select a gift that will be appreciated rather than tossed aside in the busyness of life?
The answers are not easy. Sure, we can tune in and listen to our loved ones. What do they need that they wouldn’t buy for themselves? We can observe and choose an appropriate gift card, yoga set, or hot chocolate or popcorn/movie combo gift set. And we can get that one key item our loved one has been hinting at. But what about the personalization – a gift well-thought out? What about the surprise exhibited as the least expected but most appreciated gift is unwrapped?
The key might be in keeping it simple, not overthinking it all. As long as a gift is one that means something to the giver and the receiver, does it need to be complicated, too? Give from the heart and you can’t go wrong is a good philosophy to have. And, give with love always in mind is another one. I have been guilty of making gift-giving stressful as I overthink too much. When I let go and trust my instincts about a person, know what they like or enjoy doing, then I have been pretty successful in finding the right gift.
So, this December, let’s try to relax and enjoy the season. Let’s slow down and enjoy the lights on our way home. Let’s make a point to be present for those things which we love most about this season of giving in love. Do you enjoy singing Christmas carols? Why not get a group together to bring joy to your neighbors or a nearby nursing home? Do you enjoy baking Christmas cookies or other Christmas goodies? Why not get a group together to bake and trade Christmas favorites? It’s these things that make the season of giving love more meaningful.
What will I be doing during this season of giving love? I’m not sure yet. But I have suggested to hubs that we should do a local trip together. He’s always mentioning how we don’t spend enough time together with him building our Little Casita and my return to office work. We both like visiting places we haven’t been before, so that seems like a good idea, as does taking up walking or hiking together. We both love the outdoors and we both need more physical activity in our sedentary life. So it only makes sense to give ourselves the gift of more time with each other.
I hope this blog has gotten you to thinking a little bit more about giving in love in a creative, unique way – special just for you. What does that mean? It can mean anything. One of my sisters is a lover of Legos and so she gives Legos as gifts. One of my friends considers herself a fashionista, so I’m always getting at least one fun top or jewelry item. And back when I was sewing lap blankets, I gave those as gifts to friends and family.
I hope this year will be a year of giving love to you in whatever way that means to you and the ones you are giving to. And if all you can give is a card with words of love that’s okay too. Sometimes that’s all I have given. And sometimes, it’s been a text rather than a card in the mail; not for lack of funds, as a postage stamp has never kept me from sending Christmas cards. Time has actually been that indicator. And when time is limited, as with the lack of adequate funds, creativity is often the fallback when giving in love.
So, let’s take the pressure off of giving. If this means this is a year you need a break from commercialism, that’s definitely okay. And whether it’s funds, time, or something else, sometimes taking a step back to reevaluate the why of giving this season is just what is needed to ease up, enjoy the season, and find the reason deep within of why we want to give. For me, it’s love. No,…gifts can’t buy love. But gifts can be and are meant to be an expression of our love. So, as we approach December, we can experience the joy found in the decorations, in our celebrations, and in the gift-giving – that which, once opened, expresses love.
Make this year the year of giving in love rather than giving in a hurry or giving out of expectation or giving just because. What is your because? Because if it is love, then you are on the right tract. We don’t give just for the sake of giving (or we shouldn’t anyway). We give in love – whether to a family member or friend, an employee or co-worker – otherwise, it is only checking a box. We give in love because we care. Because we seek to inspire others. To lift them up. To build them up. To express that they matter to us. To validate their place in our life – and maybe even in our heart.
Will you be giving from your heart? Will you be giving in love? Will you give well-thought out gifts instead of that glitzy item that screamed at you from the store shelf? Whatever any of us do, may we remember those who have lost loved ones. Perhaps a home-cooked meal will be a nice touch? Or to offer to run an errand for them? May we remember the homeless. Perhaps a warm jacket or a hot meal will be something we can share? May we remember the lonely. Perhaps an hour of our time to do a chore – indoors or outdoors – will bring comfort.
Giving the gift of love means more than just sharing our love. It is doing for others what they may not be able to do for themselves. So, as I close this blog off, I wish for you a meaningful Christmas season filled with the gift of giving from the heart in unique and thoughtful ways. Please know that just as you struggle to give love adequately to others, I do, too. Life is busy. Society calls us to give gifts from the pocketbook. I hope we can be challenged to give gifts of love – from the heart, as well.