The Holidays: Giving from the Heart

Two gingerbread men leaning against a mug

The holidays are here again and it’s easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of activity. However, if you stop to think about holidays past, what do you truly remember?

For most of us, it’s the simple things that make the season special. It’s quality time with family and friends. It’s tradition, both old and new. The best gifts are those that come from the heart.

Here are a few suggestions that you can adapt to create your own, very special, heart-filled holiday:

  • Be on the lookout for simple ways to enjoy the holidays. Take a drive to look at decorations or enjoy a free concert in the park or at your local school or church.
  • Spend an evening (or two) watching traditional holiday movies like “Miracle on 34th Street” or “It’s a Wonderful Life,” or newer favorites such as “Home Alone,” or “Elf.” Don’t forget the hot chocolate, hot cider or eggnog.
  • Brighten up the world for others. Help serve a meal at a homeless shelter or volunteer for reading time at your local library. If you sing or play an instrument, share your talents at a senior center or retirement home.
  • Pick up the phone and call those family members and old friends you haven’t talked to lately. You can even turn on the speaker phone or make a video call. An email doesn’t compare to hearing the voice (or seeing the face) of somebody you care about.
  • Create simple decorations. For example, even elderly folks or young children can help make pinecone ornaments or string popcorn. Include dried cherries or cranberries for songbirds to enjoy outdoors after the season is over.
  • Host a holiday potluck. Keep things simple and ask guests to bring one dish to share. Put youngsters in charge of setting the table and let seniors help with simple preparations. Don’t leave anybody out.
  • Instead of expensive presents, give people the gift of your time and skills. Seniors in your family will love coupons for gardening, an oil change or a Facebook tutorial, and in turn, they can offer coupons for storytelling or cookie-making. Kids will enjoy coupons for homemade pizza night, a special outing or a day off from chores. If in doubt, bear hugs are always welcome.
  • Create a family holiday recipe book and ask each family member to contribute. Younger family members will treasure a book that includes favorite recipes from grandparents, aunts or uncles.
  • Bring out the old scrapbooks or home movies and have a memory night. Reminiscing is fun for everybody and kids are fascinated with family stories and pictures of Mom or Grandpa as a young child.