Thanksgiving is this Thursday, so it’s official: The holiday season, with all of its hustle, bustle, shopping, cooking, baking and preparing to travel or receive house guests, has arrived once again!
We all know it’s a time to stop, count and celebrate our blessings, BUT so many of us get caught up for weeks trying buy the right gifts, decorate our houses inside and out, and attend or host parties, only to collapse each night exhausted from the often self-imposed extra work and stress.
Instead of getting so wrapped up on our tasks that we forget to focus enough on the important things, why don’t we make a committed effort to slow down our pace and instead of giving physical gifts, let’s focus on really giving of ourselves, you know, the kind of giving that enters another person’s heart and soul, the kind of giving that can change and improve a person’s day or even their life!
• Spontaneously offer to pick up some groceries for a busy neighbor while you’re the grocery store.
• Instead of putting gift cards or money in your Christmas cards, take 5 minutes to thoughtfully note the character traits you most admire and value about that friend or family member, then tell him/her how important he or she is in your life. If the card is addressed to a couple or an entire family, write down a favorite memory you all shared and tell them how much it meant to you and your family.
• Spend one whole day or an entire afternoon with each of your children. Individually (separate those twins), go to lunch and have a conversation centered around that child’s world … his interests; a boy she likes; his hopes to make the soccer team; her dreams to become a veterinarian! Make the day about your child. In a few years, he will remember that day and your focus on him more than the new video game he got from you this Christmas.
• Ask your close friends if there is ANYTHING that you could possibly do for them during this busy time. Could you take their kids for the day so they could do some Christmas shopping or go to the post office without their kids in tow? Could you drop off a fresh-from-the-market rotisserie chicken and some deli potato salad at a busy friend’s home while they are cleaning and preparing for a house-full of guests arriving the next day?
• Place a Christmas card or a thank you note in your mailbox to let your mail carrier know that you appreciate their hard work during this extra busy workload time for them.
Can we really make a difference?
Are there any people in your life that you know are struggling? Are they facing personal relationship or financial challenges? Are they strained and worried with the additional stress that the holidays can place on them?
Take a moment to list a few people who really could use some encouraging words, some uplifting, some understanding and the assurance that you are there for them no matter what. We all have been, or will be at some point in our lives, in need of some help that we didn’t want to ask for. For now, be that person who acts without having to be asked.
If you’re in a position to help someone … the act of giving of your time, resources, advice or just a listening ear could be what it takes to provide the spring board needed to launch this person’s world out of struggle and into hope.
… and in doing so, your giving-of-yourself will be the best gift you can give yourself, and be very aware that your children are watching.