I hear many people talk about how they hate the focus on material things during the holidays. And I do too, honestly. So here are some gifts you can give that are beyond material:
The gift of presence – Have you ever been somewhere physically but your brain is somewhere else? Multi-tasking can be a huge benefit in my productivity and work world, but in my personal world, it steals from my relationships. Whether I am texting on my phone or just thinking about something else, it is easy for my kids and others to know when I am not really present. Giving someone the gift of presence – truly being there when I am there – takes practice and intentionality. But it might be one of the best gifts I can truly give.
The gift of listening – Active listening requires not just hearing the words someone is saying, but really searching for the heart behind them. It takes a genuine interest in others, asking questions, and a willingness to refrain from telling my own similar story. I love this quote by David Augsberger:
Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.
The gift of touch - Because our society has twisted the idea of touch and physical affection in inappropriate ways, many of us have refrained from using physical touch at all. And that is so unfortunate. A hand on someone’s shoulder or arm can speak volumes of love. A genuine two-handed handshake combined with a warm smile can make someone’s day in just a few seconds. With those that are closer – hugs or neck rubs or other forms of affection can communicate love in ways that words cannot.
The gift of joy – Light-heartedness and fun can be so contagious - if we let it. Even when we are fighting through a crowded store just to find one small item, we can still spread joy just by our attitude and the smile on our face. Joy is something we carry on the inside, but it bursts forth through our face and demeanor when we truly let it. The gift of joy can turn a long to-do list into a fun afternoon, if we let it.
The gift of appreciation – Saying thank you never gets old. Every time I do laundry (which is a lot these days), my husband always says thank you. Even though he knows I do it all the time, he still expresses his appreciation. I don’t expect it or even need it, but I do appreciate that he notices. And that is truly the essence of appreciation – noticing the good things in our lives and acknowledging them, whether it is to God or others.