© 2013 by guest blogger Deah Curry PhD
Living in the United States, it’s hard to miss how Christmas has become a main materialistic event. With all the sales and pressure to out-give everyone on your list, and the media tracking spending as the prime measure of a healthy populace, it’s almost un-American to resist going into debt for inflated holiday expectations.
And in the process, something more important gets lost – the gifts of a soul-satisfied, joyful spirit, such as:
These gifts of a joyful spirit can strengthen the bonds of relationships of all kinds. These are the real rarities in today’s typical daily life. And they are gifts to both giver and receiver.
The Gift of Time
Instead of spending on labor-saving devices, spend your time. Give time to a soup kitchen, senior center, homeless shelter, or to your own family and friends, Spend time cooking together or serving others. Spend time playing the games that bring laughter and create warm memories.
And be creative — how can you spend special time with your partner?
The Gift of Attention
Instead of letting a material gift speak your feelings, actually have conversations, and really listen. Ask loved ones how they are really doing, what was meaningful to this in the past year, what their hurts and disappointments were. Get under the surface and give some compassionate empathy where it’s most needed.
And be fully present with your attention – look your partner in the eye, caress her face, hold his hand, cuddle.
The Gift of Forgiveness
Let go of the grudge against your uncle. Forgive all or some of the debt your sister has piled up with you. Try to understand where your mother-in-law is coming from. Broaden your perspective on the things you felt insulted you, and extend to each the gift of deciding to not let it color or control your relationships any longer.
And forgive yourself for whatever shortcomings you think you have, or sins you know you’ve committed.
The Gift of Gratitude
One of the best ways to give with a joyful spirit is to practice random acts of kindness or gratitude. Notice the people who provide you a service of even the smallest type, and go out of your way to do something nice for them, if only just handing them a card with your handwritten note of thanks for making your life easier. Maybe tuck a $20 bill inside, too. Remember at all times to say Thank you, I appreciate it.
And tell your partner throughout the day that you are grateful for their love and support, and the little things she or he does for you.
These gifts of self can be more meaningful than any new bright shiny object that you could purchase. And they can fill you and others with the true gifts of a joyful spirit – personal connection, and loving kindness.