We’re pretty much at the stage in our lives when holiday gift giving is exhausting and presents just don’t seem to hold the same allure anymore. So, we kind of stopped giving them for the holidays. Birthdays, yes, but not Xmas and Hanukkah. All the kids are grown and out of the house – no grandkids yet – and we’re all fortunate that we can buy what we want for ourselves.

We used to donate money to our favorite charities in each others’ names, until someone suggested why not just do it yourself…and so we do. Now, if I see something I know say my sister will just love and it’s not her birthday, I’ll get it anyway and make it a nice surprise. We’re just very over buying gifts for the sake of buying “stuff”during the holidays..

While we may not be giving presents, that doesn’t mean the spirit of the holidays doesn’t reside within us and that we’re not giving something. After all that has gone on this year with friends and family and the world, I’ve decided I’m going to go back to giving gifts this year, they’re just not the usual presents. And, I’m not just stopping after the holidays. I hope to keep the spirit of giving within me all year long!

is it time to rethink holiday gift giving

What I’m Giving This Holiday Season And Beyond…

Knowledge

I know that my kids and nieces and nephews do not want to hear me tell them how to live their lives, but I’ve realized I have some really good life lessons to impart and damn it, they’re going to listen and learn from me! Well, I’ll be a little more subtle and I’ve found sometimes this advice goes down better when it’s not coming from a parent.

What you can do…Pick and choose in which situations you can share your wisdom and be willing to pass on your vast knowledge from life’s experiences. I usually try and find an example they could relate to and then share the consequences without preaching. I know it’s easier said then done and that what they choose to do with the information is up to them. But, I’m betting it will be worth the effort.

Laughter

We seriously do not laugh enough and I know when I do, how much better I feel and always go, “Why don’t I do that more often?” Well, that ends now. I’m not talking doing a comedy routine here, but being willing to laugh at ourselves and trying to keep the mood lighter when it’s not literally life and death. I’m also sharing with friends several books I really love that made me laugh, like Sprinkle Glitter on My Grave: Observations, Rants, and Other Uplifting Thoughts About Life or Yuge! 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump by Gary Trudeau.

What you can do…Be a positive person around your friends and family. Smile. If you do something stupid and you will, laugh at the absurdity. Don’t get mad.

Time

I work from home, so have the flexibility to donate my time to others. I’m really into helping animals, so that’s where my focus is; volunteering at the shelter and doing my best to get the pets adopted. But, I’m not just giving my time as a volunteer, I’m also going to give my time to reach out to family and friends that I have neglected during the year. It’s time to make that phone call to the people who were so kind to my father when he was alive, but who I have neglected since he died. And this is just one example.

What you can do…Find a cause that is dear to your heart or to your kids and find a way to give back. It doesn’t have to take a lot of your time either. As a parent, take an hour out of your day to have a real chat with your children or elderly parent. Check in with what’s really going on in their lives.

is it time to rethink holiday gift giving by volunteering instead

Volunteering at our local animal shelter.

Hope

I know a lot of my friends are scared about what’s going on this country and around the world, but are reacting differently.  Some are choosing to complain about everything, others have tuned out, while others are seeking ways to channel their doubt and fear. They are seeing this as an opportunity to start or keep the conversation going and are hoping that through action and money, they can make a difference. No matter which side of the political spectrum you’re on, there’s a lot of uncertainty out there and it’s spurring a lot of people into action who had been idle before.

What you can do…Channel your “despair” in a meaningful way. Pick an issue that is important to you and you have concerns about. Whether it’s the environment, gun control, women’s issues, or gay rights, find an organization within that area that you can support through time or money. Life does move in cycles and you’re not powerless.

Forgiveness

I’m never holding grudges again.  Live is way too short. I’m either forgiving the person I feel wronged me and moving on or forgiving them, but choosing not to have them in my life. It will have to be situation-based, because while I’m not keeping the grudge alive, there are some people that I’ve realized I really don’t like as people and don’t want to be friends with and that’s okay.

What you can do…Realize that grudges really hurt you the worst and keep anger or resentment in you alive. It’s not worth it. Learn to forgive and move on.

Money

Okay, this is obvious. I always give donations at this time of year, even though I try and spread it out all year long when my favorite charities are probably getting low on funds.

What you can do...Besides the charities of your choice, why not find some unique ways to give. I love the people who go into Walmart and pay off all the lay away items or the man who gave the police in his town $100 bills to give away to people who looked in need.

So, I hope you don’t think I’m all bah humbug, because I’m really not. In fact, I think I actually have more holiday spirt than ever before; it’s just manifesting itself in a totally different way. Living through some of the ugliness this year and as I’m getting older, I’ve learned there’s a lot more to what makes me happy than opening a package with a new scarf! To be able to make a little difference in someone else’s life or the world, is what it’s now all about…

What are you giving besides presents this year? We’d love to hear what you come up with for holiday gift giving.