This year I participated in a gift tree for the children of workers in my area. It was fun to go out and buy for young children and especially to wrap up the gifts. I don’t know why, but there is such joy in wrapping and seeing a wrapped gift. Maybe it is the unnecessary beauty added to something mundane. Maybe it is the sense of the unknown and the anticipation. Maybe it is seeing something special amidst the blandness of the rest of the house. No matter the reason, I hope the wrapped presents and the gifts themselves bring as much joy to the children as they did for me.
What has your gift giving been like this year? Has it been a hassle to go out into the cold and buy an obligatory gift for the aunt you only see once a year? Are you worried about the added expense of the holidays? Are you feeling resentful that what you normally give is nowhere near what you receive? Perhaps it is time to rethink giving.
Giving should be from the heart. It is not an obligation or a social necessity. The joy I received from the gifts I purchased is because, first, I decided to give. No obligation was in place. I choose to give. Second, I choose to give to the children of people who have gifted me throughout the year. It was personal and heartfelt. I wanted to show my appreciation. Third, they won’t even know it is from me. The gifts are from “Santa” and neither the children nor the workers will know who it came from. This takes out the personal element and makes it magical. I secretly gave. They receive with general, not specific, gratefulness. The entire exercise is bigger than us all.
This season explore the joy of giving.
Choose to Give
Look at your gift buying list. Really look at and connect with each name. Consciously choose to give. Remove obligation. Remove the thought that you will be a pariah if you are the only one who does not give. Truly look at the other person. What makes them special in your eyes? What do you want to thank them for? What is going on in their life; could they use a little joy and love? Then choose to give to them from your heart.
Give with Intention
Why are you giving to the person you are gifting? Do you want to thank them? Do you want them to know they are loved? Do you want to make them feel better after a tough year? Don’t just give a thing. Give an intention for their well-being.
Give without Expectation
Make it about them, not you. Don’t try to give a better present than your siblings. Don’t give to receive gratitude. Give with a presence of anonymity. You can still put your name on the present, but remove all of your expectations for what “should” come back to you. Truly give to the other with no expectation to receive back.
And remember that giving does not just mean material things. Don’t just give tangible presents but give of your presence. Be aware of those around you and be wholly present for them. Give compassion to those you love, and those who trigger you. Give kindness; as the stores get busy consciously give kindness to the store clerks and other shoppers.
This holiday season bring back the joy of giving . . . and notice the ten-fold joy returned to you.