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This has been an interesting year for me. This is the first time that the Christmas season has come along and I’ve given almost no though at all to what I’ll be getting. I don’t even know if I’m getting anything at all, and it honestly doesn’t bother me. It was a bit annoying to have to make a wish list on the chance that people needed it. More than anything, my focus has been on giving this year. And let me tell you, I really decided to go big on the giving.
I decided not to spend a lot of money, but I wanted to do something special. Since my family gatherings haven’t happened yet I have to be vague, but suffice it to say that I am giving gifts to 21 people this year. Normally I do gifts for 10 people or less, usually only 4 or 5. For a long time I was more concerned with what I’d get, and found giving to others to just be an annoyance. Some years I enjoyed it, but not most of the time. This year, it’s been all I could think about since August.
I came up with my giving idea in August, and I’ve spent months feeling eager and excited about it. I couldn’t wait for December to get here so I could really work on it, and I’m excited for this weekend when I finally get to give out all of my gifts. I can’t wait to see people’s faces and let them know that I loved them enough to go to all this time and work. It was fun and I didn’t really mind. The thought of giving to so many is just amazing, and it has turned the whole holiday around for me.
So what changed this year from every year before? A few things. For one, I let go of all the years where I got lousy gifts or no gifts. It’s in the past, I can’t change it, so there’s no use being bitter over it. The same is true of all the years where people didn’t appreciate what I gave them on the occasions when I could afford to give. It’s not my fault if people were materialistic or ungrateful. I can hope they get better, but it’s in the past now and there’s no guarantee that people will react that way again. This could well be the year that everyone is really grateful and kind. I also realized more than ever that the holidays are about giving, not getting.
Most people look at Christmas either as a time of stress and debt or as a time of getting, and often as both. They don’t give just for the sake of giving, but because it’s sort of a way of bribing people to give them better gifts next year. They give out of obligation, or to outdo someone, or with the expectation of getting. Not many people give just because they want to anymore, and that’s pretty sad. This year I decided I couldn’t be one of those people anymore. If I walk away from the holidays empty handed, I’ll still be happy that I was able to give, and the gifts I gave were made with love. This year I’m putting my time, my skill and my love into things and giving them to everyone. No matter what they think of the gift itself, they should surely be able to tell that I thought of each of them with love.
The feeling I’ve gotten from thinking about others instead of myself has been wonderful. I usually get kind of depressed at Christmas, knowing I’m not likely to get a lot, and that I usually can’t afford to give. But this year I feel so different. I can’t wait to give. It feels so much better than thinking about myself. And for the first time, if I get anything, it’s going to be an actual surprise. I probably will get a few gifts, and I think it’s going to be more awesome then ever, because I’m not expecting anything. Everything will be a true gift. This year I have no notions of what I want that could cause me to feel that what I get isn’t good enough. That’s an interesting thing, and I’m glad for it.
I really feel like people need to think about others more than about themselves. Don’t worry about the price of gifts or outdoing anyone or meeting anyone’s standards. The holidays aren’t supposed to be about debt and stress and praying you met people’s overly-high expectations. They’re supposed to be about love and family and giving. Do that. Feel that. Drop the rampant materialism and all that goes with it. It may be too late for some of you to make the change this year, but you can make next year special. You can vow right now to make a change and experience the joy and satisfaction that comes from thinking less about yourself and more about others. You can choose to let go of the stress and financial burden and make giving something that is less about cost and more about love. Take some time, do some thinking and planning, and you can make next year your best Christmas ever.