Thanksgiving is upon us, and the holiday season is already in full swing. We see decorations, commercials, and all types of media pushing us to buy, buy buy! Contrary to what we see and hear, the holiday season is not just about buying stuff. The season which runs between Thanksgiving and Christmas goes by all sorts of names, depending on who you talk to, and you probably even have your own name for it. I’ll just refer to it as the holiday season and know that it includes holidays of all faiths and cultures.
This time of year can be overwhelming, and some people would rather avoid it altogether. Stores are crowded. People are more stressed. It can just be a hassle to go outside. If you are one who hasn’t been able to truly embrace the “reason for the season,” you might want to give some serious thought to what is really holding you back.
If it seems like everything is too commercial, and it’s all about “what’s in it for me?” consider flipping the message from overly commercial to truly personal, as well as from “what’s in it for me?” to what can I do for you? Joining with others in giving back for the blessings that have been bestowed on you is a great way to make this wonderful season joyful and memorable.
But, you may be asking, just how do you do that? How do you give back without literally taking what you’ve received and handing it over to someone else? Thankfully, there are several ways you can give and receive the benefits of “giving back.”
Consider these ideas as a starting point:
1. Visit a children’s hospital. Kids who are sick need to know that they’re loved and cared for. You can give them that reassurance by spending time with them during this season of giving. Your visits will provide much-needed encouragement and bring some special joy into their day. Be sure to call ahead and understand the guidelines and policies of the hospital.
* Find out from your local children’s hospital if they have a program which allows you to become a mentor to young patients
* Make play dates or plan to read stories.
* Add the children to your social media network so they feel involved.
2. Donate cash, food, clothes, toys, or other gifts. Sometimes the most direct way to give is to donate cash or goods to a needy individual or organization. Your contribution can make a meaningful difference in an individual’s life or a program’s ability to help their guests. It’s easy to embrace the season when you realize you are making a difference and how much you are appreciated!
3. Adopt a pet. Taking an abandoned pet into your home is one of the most heartwarming things you’ll ever experience! Animals have such a direct way of showing gratitude by giving back unconditional love and loyalty. Keep in mind, however, that a pet is not a temporary thing. Be prepared to care for it long term, or skip this idea altogether.
4. Count your blessings. Sometimes all it takes to embrace the season of giving is sincere appreciation of all the blessings you’ve received. When you take a moment to look at all you’ve received and achieved, you’ll realize that you have more than you imagined and can then feel free to share your wealth – financial and spiritual – with others. Try this simple exercise – set a fifteen minute times and then make a list of all your blessings. Don’t stop to think, just write whatever comes to you. At the end of the fifteen minutes, take time to review your list. Are there things on there that surprise you? I’ll be you find a few you hadn’t thought about before.
5. Spend precious time with those you love. Precious memories with family members, friends, and other loved ones are worth more than their weight in gold. It’s an awesome feeling to let those closest to you know how important they are to you. Find a way to express your feelings – a card, note, or even a video or photo collage shows you took time to think about your relationship. Don’t just mail it or drop it off, make time to visit. That’s probably the best gift you’ll ever give them!
As you can see, the holiday season can be a season of giving, and it can really be what you want it to be. Embrace and personalize your holidays by choosing your own special way to give back to others while giving thanks for all you’ve received and are about to receive. Customize the season to fit your life and do the things that are really important to you.
Taking this approach enables you to get the most out of the holidays, and also ensures that each year you can make memories that you’ll cherish forever.
Find your purpose – find your joy!
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Did you find a few more ideas of your own? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments, and as always please reach out with your thoughts.
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