This is the season when we run around searching for the perfect gift, arranging holiday parties and busting our budgets doing both. We stress ourselves during a time that should be about peace and celebration.
I have been guilty of spending too much money on gifts, only to find out that they were not really appreciated. I have realized the gifts that really matter do not cost anything at all, and can bring us peace and satisfaction. Here are a few ideas of those gifts.
The best gift we can give our friends and family is our time. It really does not matter what we do together, as long as we disconnect from screens and completely engage with the people we love. It is also a gift to give our time to our community by filling any needs we see. We can volunteer at an organization or spend time with the elderly. Our time is precious and priceless.
Laughter has a powerful energy. Have you ever found yourself smiling when you heard someone laughing? There is something about it that is contagious. It is hard not to feel positive, when you are laughing. Help others laugh, too.
Food can fill our stomach, but it also can feed our soul. When we give someone the gift of food, we are sending a message that we care about the person and want to take care of him or her. Food can lift your spirit and build relationships. Make meals for someone who may be struggling, and send a message of love.
Everyone has a story, and he or she needs someone to listen to it. Show a complete interest in someone’s story, instead of interjecting your own. Ask questions about the story you are hearing. Make that person feel special because you are showing an interest.
It is such an easy gift to give, and it carries an amazing impact. You can change someone’s day, and even turn someone’s life around, with a simple act of kindness. Kindness is contagious. When someone sees someone else being kind, that person feels the need to perform an act of kindness. Someone going out of his or her way to do something nice for you can have a lasting effect.
Decide on activities to do as a family. You could go to a tree lighting, caroling, shopping, cooking, eating, ice skating, hiking or staying at home watching a good movie on the couch in front of the fire. One of my favorite memories is when all the women in my family went Black Friday shopping. It never mattered what we bought. The important thing was being together, the experiences we had and the laughter.
The holiday season is a time when our need for each other is even more evident than normal. It is a season about love, hope and peace, and many people need help finding those things. The holidays make it a little easier to reach out and help ease someone’s burden.
This is a season filled with a feeling of love and giving. I have always thought that anything could happen during this time of year. It is a time filled with our own childhood memories and joys, and a chance for us to experience and share our most precious gifts, more than worrying about whether we have spent enough money.
By Jennifer Bonn, contributing writer and teacher at Mount Paran Christian School.