By Arleen M. Kaptur

During the Holidays it seems like everyone is worried about "something." The "somethings" are varied, such as "How will I find the time", "Which gift is the best gift" and "Will I be able to afford to buy an expensive gift because everyone else will give them an expensive one."

The Holidays are meant to be times of joy, happiness, and sharing. The joy comes from just watching the white glistening snow fall, or the trees and garlands that decorate every home and town corner. Happiness - well, each of us has so much to be grateful for - we are alive, we are aware, and we have the capablility to do and be. Now, the difficult one to some - sharing. Sharing in a monetary way carries with it the ribbons of so many "just not right" reasons. You give a gift you bought that you really could not afford but felt that your outward image would need. You hand it over, it is accepted, and that's that. But, let's check out something here. You can make a gift with your own hands, or you give time and attention to a small child, an elderly neighbor, or a bewildered teen. It comes in wrapping paper of care and concern, with tinsel that lights up the eyes of the recipient, and with a bow that ties their world together. Your cost - more than you felt you had, or could spend, or could recoup after the Holidays - but less than the cost of the sun, stars and moon - a gift that has no monetary value only riches that even royalty can't buy.

Showing a small child the Christmas Star, baking cookies and watching them disappear as quickly as they come out of the oven, or ohhing and ahhing over a gift a child made in school that now hangs proudly on the refrigerator door with your mentioning it to everyone that stops by - there is not enough gold in the world. A simple pair of mittens with a promise of a "sledding afternoon", a basket with marshmallows, chocolate, and grahams with a note that invites the recipient to a warm friendly fire on the coldest night of the year to munch, crunch, and talk, a hand-decorated box of stationary, including a few stamps with the words, "I promise to answer every letter."

Now, when the Holidays are over and the overly expensive gifts are put on a closet shelf, which gift do you think will be brought out, enjoyed, and used? In other words, think of the person, what they need, who they are, and what would bring them happiness over and over again, and use your creativity and imagination. A coloring book to a small child with stars and the moon, will be cherished and slipped under their pillow because you promised a night of star-gazing. A box of flavored teas given to grandma with a note about joining her for a "tea party" will bring a smile to her face every time she sees it. A young teen - a ticket slipped into a hat or scarf of school colors - the "ticket" your offer to drive him/her and pick him/her up from that "doing" that they would not be able to get to. Grandpa - well, you know how he loves your pot roast - a freezer meal so that he can enjoy your pot roast whenever he wants. Aunt Claude and Uncle Bob - two candles in a box with embroidered napkins and a "Delivery" of a fine meal - all prepared - on a "special date" that means a lot to them. Your boss - a calendar with all the birthdays and anniversaries marked so he doesn't need to ask.

But also don't forget that the "magic" only works if you are set to keep your "promises". The guarantee - memories on both sides with a lot of hugging, smiling, and even giggles. At first, this may seem awkward and "weird." It's catching - because others will pick up on the "cheer" and you have started a tradition of "giving the gift that keeps giving" , and not the one that is charged, delivered, and in January when the bill arrives - you will probably be the only one thinking about it. Give a gift that goes beyond Christmas - give from the heart and the Spirit of Christmas will envelope your home and hearth with a warmth that will make your world beautiful. ENJOY!


Here are a couple of sites that you may find helpful this Christmas:

10 ways to keep your Expectations From Making You Crazy This Christmas

Christmas Stress Busters