The holiday season is here already — expectations of finding the many gifts for everyone on your list can be daunting. This can be a very stressful task, trying to decide on gifts for co-workers, friends, service people and family!
However, the most daunting task for me and I am sure for most, is trying to figure out what to buy for those on your gift list! Facing this quandary of what the kids may want, parents, friends, co-workers…the list goes on!
We bundle up to run to the mall, which if there ever was a shopping experience that needed shopping carts, it’s the mall! They should have large carts to hold coats, children, and the many things you are intending to buy, … that’s just my opinion. With your coat still on, as you must have your hands free to hold the gifts, you start your search, hoping you will find ideas of what to buy. The only good thing about this experience is that the holiday decorations and cheer gets you more in the mood for the holidays.
Then there are the post-holiday blues which comes over us as we find out that our loved one didn’t like their gift at all, imagine that! But no worries. Now we just need to enclose a gift receipt with our gifts, so they can run to the mall and find something they do like! Does this sound a bit like a retail conspiracy…? Or is it only me?
The real stress for many people, especially young families, is that they can’t afford to buy all those gifts; this unfortunate situation is very often solved by charging up the credit cards! Which then means that all those deals you thought you got at the store or online turn into high-interest-rate bills for the year. Whew! This is a valid argument as to why at holiday parties we might drink too much spiked eggnog!
While accumulating all this stress, it led me to wonder something I never really thought about before, What would Jesus want for Christmas? After all, this is his birthday celebration!
After a long meditational moment, I felt an answer flow through me. The answer was not that astounding, it was just trying to figure out how to wrap it — Show acts of kindness to your fellow humans. That’s it! So, what did the higher mind of God mean by this and how do I wrap it up?
Suggestions on how to show acts of kindness to your fellow human beings:
1. For the younger children on your list: Keep the giving to a minimum; kids can become overwhelmed with too many toys. Teach your child that giving is as rewarding as receiving. Maybe have your child give a gift to a homeless shelter or to your place of worship. Many organizations collect gifts for needy children. Several years ago, I took my twelve-year-old son to a gift drive for a local orphanage. He announced that he would like to donate his prized gift from his wish list, a Nintendo gaming system. He had such a joyous feeling giving that year, and he felt content playing his old game unit, plus some new games we bought for his older unit.
2. Older children: Encourage them to volunteer. My eighteen-year-old daughter and I decided to volunteer to feed the homeless at a shelter one Christmas. She was stunned by the poverty people endured, also taking note that there were so many children. That holiday my daughter found her giving heart and later became a nurse.
3. Adults: I have talked about the kindness of ‘paying it forward’. Many times, I have been blessed with finding someone to gift groceries too or help someone in need without expectations of anything in return. Even the kindness of simply smiling at someone who is a bit stressed or grumpy is a gift. You don’t know what they might be going through. Maybe give an extremely large tip to a stressed-out waitperson. Doing such things won’t necessarily get you a write-off on your taxes, but instead, you get that ‘joyous receipt’ of helping someone else. We run across such opportunities all the time. Your giving to others will make them feel so blessed that they will pay it forward to others. When you find a moment to give someone this gift of kindness and they thank you, simply share with them to pay it forward, even if it is only a smile to help someone through a stressful time. After all, kindness is the ultimate gift.
Have a Joyous Giving Holiday.