Drudgery and debt can sour holiday spirits. Holiday cheer can easily become crumpled Holiday commitments tied with the bows of gift-giving competition, My grandmother crocheted the saying, “The gift is small but love is all. " Today, the motto is “Give me more". My wife's grandmother remembers the year her gift was an orange for Christmas. She recalls that year and gift more than any of the other 91 Christmas days she celebrated.
Gift giving becomes difficult when the recipient has expectations. Children do this always. “This is not what I wanted. " “How come you got this one?" “I don't like the color. " Adults say a polite thank you while thinking about where to return the gift. In fact, children and spouses make their disappointment obvious. An acquaintance looks for some value and purpose in the gift, puts it back in the box, writes a thank you note, and saves it for the yard sale 3 years later.
Three emotions seem to be the best guidance for gift-giving.
Give without expectation
The ancient saying, “It is better to give than to receive" works. Satisfaction fills your heart when exchanging gifts does not matter. Find ways to give to those who cannot give back. Working at a food kitchen on Christmas Day, or helping workers tidy up a shelter for the homeless will give you insights and joy unknown before.
Every community has elderly people sitting alone during the Holidays. You will find them at table with their memories, but not much of an appetite. Bring them a home-cooked meal, or invite them to your table for dinner. Ask the local clergy or check with your municipal officials, “Do you know of anyone who lives alone and would like a meal or company?" These simple acts of kindness to those who cannot give back will bring you unspeakable joy and satisfaction.
Give without excess
Diamonds get dirty; silver turns dull. Despite the commercial for a high-end luxury vehicle, giving a gift-wrapped car seems excessive to me. How many of us can afford that expense? Too many holiday shoppers will spend what they do not have to give what they cannot afford. Banks will soon require repayment minimums that burden you more.
It takes 30 seconds to rip wrapping paper, about 20 minutes to clean-up the living room of gift-wrappings, 20 minutes to bring it to the curb or the dump, 20 minutes to get it stored in drawers or shelves. Gift-giving ends quickly. The size or cost of your gift will not make the moments more memorable. You might be the only one thinking about your holiday excesses next July when the 7th credit card statement must be paid.
Give with energy
T. S. Eliot's poem, “The Journey of the Magi"
Gift giving is not always simple joy. At times, it is hard and demanding. Attempt gifts that come from your hand and talents. Write a letter, paint a painting, scrub the kitchen floor or clean the dirty prints off every entry door. Set someone free from the mundane with an energy that gifts from this year to the next. Make gifts of new habits with an energetic love for someone special.
Ray Randall serves clients as a registered investment advisor with his firm, Ethos Advisory Services, Essex, Massachusetts Ethos Advisory Services. He has wide experience within the financial services industry, writes a weekly newsletter for http://www.ethosadvisory.com Ethos Advisory Services, and coordinates the developments at http://www.echievements.com Echievements.com. Ray holds a Masters Degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Hamilton, MA. You may call Ray (617-275-5565).