It’s a snowy, magical Colorado Christmas around our house this year and we are filled with gratitude for the blessings of family and friends both near and far that enrich our lives. The tree is lit, the cookies baked, and the shopping is done – well, not exactly. As I try to follow my own advice for “slow, intentional living,” I am challenged to make Christmas look a little different this year. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas with all the excitement and anticipation. But it’s way to easy to feel like there’s some kind of competition to have the best tree, food, party, event schedule and gifts and get it all done before Christmas Eve.
We are often so overwhelmed and busy that much of the simple joy of Christmas is lost on us. Our intentions are good – we want to make this season special for our family and friends because we are so thankful for them. But it has occurred to me that we don’t need more “stuff” and I certainly don’t need to get sucked into the anxiety of shopping frenzy to try to find that “perfect” gift. What I DO think everyone needs these days is a gift that can’t be wrapped up in paper – the gift of “time.” It’s takes a little more creative thought, but it’s well worth the effort to reflect on how to bless someone this year with a gift that isn’t bought in a store. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
A getaway gift certificate to a local restaurant or hotel for a young working couple. Accompany the gift with the offer to babysit!
Take a friend to lunch.
If you have a special talent or gift, offer to give lessons.
An offer to clean someone’s house and/or cook for them so they can go out and enjoy the day with family or friends.
Organize a hike/bike/picnic (you pack the food and wine/beer)
Make a promise to a child (or grandchild) to take a special trip (near or far) just with them. This is like giving two gifts – the anticipation of the gift and then the gift itself. Delayed gratification is a sweet treat that many children today don’t have the pleasure of receiving.
For an older friend or relative, you can bless them beyond any material goods by simply giving them your time and attention. Sit down with them and just listen to their stories. Guaranteed reciprocal blessings.
And if you must give a wrapped gift, a handwritten letter of love and appreciation, a good book or a small homemade consumable treat is a sure bet.
Those are just some ideas that have worked like a charm for me and that people still talk about today. How about you? What other ideas can you share? How are you going to make this Christmas different from all the rest? What do your gifts of time look like?
Speaking of time, we spent a lot of it traveling this year and in addition to our trip to Europe (previous blogs) we enjoyed visiting with friends and family around the country and in our own town. So, here’s my gift to you….grab a cup of coffee or tea, sit back and enjoy some pretty cool photo highlights of our year 2015.