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  • Writer's pictureDr. Paul Schmidt




There’s one contagious infection we’re all trying to catch this year—the Christmas Spirit. If you do catch it, be careful you don’t lose it in all the rush to find, buy, decorate, and deliver the kind of presents you wrap. Too many of those gifts can wrap us up, tight as the drummer boy’s drum.

Sure, they help the national economy, and the spirits of investors and CEO’s. Yet they kill the family economy, and they can drain our spirits. But hey, I’m giving some wrapped gifts too, so go ahead, enjoy. But if you want to give or receive the Christmas spirit, here are ten gifts that will do the trick.

  1. Slow down—easy does it. This will let you get in touch with the motivation and imagination to give some of the presents below.

  2. Give what you don’t need to those who do. Do an angel tree gift. Give something anonymously. Give to those who can’t give back, remembering, “It’s better to give than to receive” (so said the Birthday Boy). And give with personal warmth--when you encounter a stranger in need, treat them like a friend or family member.

  3. Don’t segregate, but celebrate differences in the family. The holidays are the best time, and the family table is the best place, to accept people from different generations, values, beliefs, lifestyles, race, religion, and political party or cause. Regardless of who is actually invited to come over, include every member of your family somehow in your Christmas. Go visit them. Give them a call. If you don’t know what to say, practice the ideas below. Actively oppose a fragmented family at Christmas. If some aren’t there, call them, and pass the phone around to all who will join in.

  4. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything til you can. This Christmas, take a vacation from complaints and criticism. This also works when you hear critical complaints about someone who’s not present to take up for themselves. You can say, “I wonder how we can help or bless them this Christmas?”

  5. Share your family with those who have none. If you can persuade the powers that be, suggest that we invite for dinner local friends who may not have much family in town. If the powers that be won’t have it, take the better sports in your family (young children for sure) out to ring a bell for the holidays, or take Christmas baskets to the homes of those less fortunate.

  6. Bury the hatchet—let your grievances go. When you’re getting your decorations and gifts out of the closet for the holidays, why not put your cold shoulders and revenge back in there? You can get them back out next year if you want, but don’t be surprised if you’re doing better without them. To give, forgive. To get, forget, at least for the season.

  7. Speak to everybody. With a friend or relative you don’t like, if you don’t say or do anything else, at least get into their face once, smile, look into their eyes, and give them a warm greeting, expecting nothing in return. It’s the people you don’t want to look in the eye who need your smiling words the most.

  8. Share what’s happening, say what’s up. Tell what you’ve been doing, and then expand your horizons by showing an interest in others, what they’ve been doing, what they’re going through. If you don’t feel interested, fake it til you make it: act interested until you get interested.

  9. Laugh with those who laugh, weep with those who weep. React with sensitivity to what you hear. Be compassionate—show sympathy with the ups and downs of other people’s lives. Laugh at their jokes, and show you’re sorry about their troubles.

  10. Reach out to someone you miss. Write, phone, text, email or Facebook someone you miss, somebody you warmly remember from holidays past. “Remember” means to re-member, to make somebody a member of your circle again, if only for a few minutes. Physically they may not be around your table this year, but this will bring them back emotionally.

These ten gifts all involve giving a piece of yourself. This is the only kind of gift the Birthday Boy gave us during his 33 years on earth, and the only kind he asked us to give each other as our way of saying thanks to him.

The cool and magic thing here is that you can’t go broke giving these gifts. In fact, you’ll find that IF you expect nothing in return, the more you give away these pieces of yourself, the bigger you get, and the more you have to give.

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