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Give of yourself instead of giving gifts

This time of year, we can’t escape hearing those holiday tunes played over the sound system as we walk through the mall, go grocery shopping, or turn on the tv. We’re constantly reminded that it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Yes, it certainly can be. However, it can also be a very stressful time too when we’re racked with anxiety, sometimes melancholy, and dread to inevitable debt that mounts trying to buy gifts for everyone because, … well that’s what we’re supposed to do. Or is it?

A growing number of people are saying ‘STOP’ not again this year with the ‘over-the-top’ gift giving frenzy. Instead, the message is spreading out about adopting a no-gift holiday. The simple reason is this: giving gifts often does not lead to greater happiness.

So what are some of the alternative things we can do this season to give of ourselves that will be meaningful?  The list is limitless, but to get you started thinking creatively, here goes:

Give thanks: It’s quite simple. When you sit down to have a nice meal, each person at the holiday table is asked to give a statement of thanks, like “This year I am most grateful for …”

Give experiences: Have everyone put some money in a pot, then spend it together by going to a show, visiting an art gallery, renting a cabin, having a spa day, going to a nice restaurant, or donate it to a worthwhile cause.

Give things away: Ask your children to choose gently used items from their toy boxes, bookshelves and closets to pass on to other kids, explaining how much these items can mean to someone else.

Give your time: Find out about the non-profit organizations in your neighbourhood that offer opportunities for kids and families to volunteer to do some creative fund raising, or cook food, or wrap gifts for others.

And, you can’t lose by doing any of these things: 

  • Give blood;
  • Give food to your local food bank;
  • Give to your local women’s and/or men’s shelters;
  • Give something to others and donate to a local charity;
  • Give blankets, toys, and food to your local pet shelter;
  • Give by saying hello or seasons’ greetings to people you walk by;
  • Give by baking cookies and cakes for your local police & fire fighters;
  • Give by adopting an endangered animal from the Canadian Wildlife Federation;
  • Give inspiration and appreciation to others by writing them a kind letter of thanks;
  • Give a friend or loved one a beautiful card with a poem written by you expressly for them;
  • Give by buying and donating a gift card anonymously to a lonely homeless person in your area;
  • Give by finding out how you can support our troops serving overseas through a recognized organization;
  • Give by looking around you as the possibilities are endless!

Whatever you decide to do, hold peace, love, and joy in your heart when giving of yourself to others.

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