All fall décor has been packed neatly away and it’s officially beginning to look a lot like Christmas in our home. I have simplified things a bit this year and truth be told, Christmas looks nothing like it has in the past. We all know this. We’re all trying to make the best of it. Expectations vs. reality is for real this year.
As the brilliant and gifted Susie Davis reminds us, expectations can cause us to hold on too tightly to what we envision things should look like and in the long run can steal joy and lead to disappointment when reality doesn’t meet those expectations. Maybe this year, of all years, we need to adjust our expectations and face reality.
If you’re like me, you are grappling with what to buy friends and family for Christmas in this oddest of odd years. When our daughter was young, every Christmas she asked for an American Girl doll. So glad she won’t be getting “Homeschool Heather” this year. Back then and to this day as a young adult, she only receives three gifts at Christmas. My thinking was that if three gifts were good enough for Jesus, they’re good enough for the rest of us. Granted, she’s never asked for Frankincense or Myrrh, but a touch of gold here and there has made its way under the tree.
Naturally we long to give each other all the toys and gifts we possibly can. The holidays can certainly test our gift of self-control when it comes to showering loved ones with gifts and even overspending on extravagant and unnecessary ones. But maybe this year we can switch things up. How about giving gifts we can’t wrap or order online? Courtney Carver advises acceptance should be at the top of our lists in that we should…
- Accept that the holidays are going to be different this year
- Accept that December is always a hectic month
- Accept that you won’t get it all done and that’s okay
- Accept that you don’t need to create the “perfect” holiday
- Accept that emotions will run high this time of year
The Gift of Time
How many ticks on a clock have you lived so far? It’s estimated that one year equals 31,536,000 seconds. How many of those seconds have you wasted? Shared with others? Relaxed? Learned? Listened? Played? Prayed?
Given the current “we’re in the middle of a pandemic” situation, giving the gift of time will be more challenging. In the past, our presence could be such a welcomed present, but this year being present with even our closest family members and friends is practically forbidden. But, time has been a key element in 2020. We’ve either had too much of it on our hands hunkering down at home or we haven’t had enough hours in a day to successfully work from home, teach our kids from home, and keep the home going. Time has somewhat stood still this year, leaving us all longing for quality time. Maybe that’s something you can give and share.
One of my favorite gifts of all time was the above: homemade Frankincense body scrub, Myrrh bath salts, and gold chocolate coins. It was years ago that I received them but I remember them to this day and am so grateful to the sweet friend who took the time to think of them, make them, package them so perfectly, and give them.
Time is a gift from God but it can also be a gift from you to someone else. It may be as simple as taking the time to listen to them; really listen. Take a time out and actually call someone…don’t text, message, or email…call them. Take the time to create and make gifts for your neighbors and delivery people. You could also offer to be someone’s personal assistant for a day…or a week. Offer to pick up their dry cleaning, take their dog to the vet, wash their car, file items, make appointments, or even pack away Christmas décor. If you have the time to endlessly scroll through social media and binge watch the hottest shows, you have the time to give the gift of time.
Things Money Can’t Buy
Maybe it’s time to put away the credit cards and stop “adding to cart” and instead give gifts that money can’t buy such as…
- Give forgiveness to your enemy or someone who’s hurt you
- Give tolerance to those you disagree with
- Give loyalty to your friends
- Give a friendly smile and patience to customer service reps and store clerks
- Give good examples to your children
- Give comfort to anyone hurting or struggling
These are all priceless gifts that we can all afford to share.
Gifts That Stimulate the Five Senses
All of the above are great ideas that we can somewhat easily implement this season, but let’s be honest, we also love giving actual gift-wrapped gifts. So, why not create a gift theme (I love a great theme!) and give friends and family presents that appeal to their hearing, taste, touch, smell, or sight? Make it fun and make it “stimulating!” Here are just a few suggestions:
- Wind chimes
- Snuggly throw blankets
- Coffee and a festive mug
- A music box
- Peppermint oil and a diffuser
- A massage or facial gift card
- Bath salts or oils
Simple Yet Thoughtful Gifts They Haven’t Thought Of
Everyone has a list but that list often consists of the standard fare. What if we dig deep inside our creative gift-giving minds and wrap up something someone doesn’t even realize they want or something they love? This could be:
- One of their favorite foods either homemade or delivered.
- A book on someone they love, a coffee table book, or even their favorite childhood book
- A cooking gift box filled with a cookbook, recipe, cooking utensils, etc.
- A nature gift box filled with seeds, garden gloves and tools, and bird feeder.
- A craft gift box. People are staying home more and more and many a new hobby has been discovered. Honor that hobby with a box filled with items to continue it or even take it to a new level.
- I speak from what I know here, as something I’ve asked for this year is a gift certificate for my beloved yoga classes. What do I really “need” anyway I asked myself. I need yoga!
- A gift card to their hair stylist. Not only will you help them out with what can be an expensive appointment, you’re helping a local small business along the way.
- Donate to their favorite philanthropy in their name. Times are tough for many charities this year while at the same time needs are greater.
In the end, the giving of gifts is not all about what you give, but how you give it and why you give it. Do you spend more time and effort on the buying of gifts and the outward wrappings of them than you do on what’s inside? Today ask yourself, “If I were gift wrapped as a package would others be happy to receive me?” Yes, you have to believe to receive but you should also graciously and thoughtfully give. After all, takers may procure better, but givers sleep better.
This year, perhaps more than ever, we should also remember to look at the true gifts around us: our family, friends, homes, jobs, health, and faith. Some of these are missing or gone for so many this year and it might be a tough road ahead and not one paved with endless and meaningless gifts. Let’s not forget them and their needs as we shop and when we pray.