by monica pearson
Giving The Spirit of
Happy Chanukah! Merry Christmas! Happy Kwanzaa! Happy Holidays!!! Pick the greeting that suits you and celebrate!
he holidays are an amazing time, with traditions, decorations and holiday cheer. For many people the holiday spirit starts to bubble up around Thanksgiving Day and fizzles by New Year’s Day. On January 1, holiday spirit usually is exorcised by New Year’s resolutions that often don’t make it 30 days. For 41 days, from Thanksgiving Day through New Year’s Day, we are frenzied trying to express to friends, family and business associates how much they mean to us through cards, letters and, mainly, gifts – gifts that many people don’t need, don’t want and probably will re-gift next year. I can hear you saying, “Monica, it’s the thought that counts.” To me, it is not “the thought that counts” but how much thought went into your holiday gift. That is what truly counts. It is time to change your thinking about giving. And I believe by changing your ideas on giving, you can embrace the warm feeling of the holiday period and savor it for the other 324 days of the year. You’ll also surprise and impress those who receive your gifts, as never before, and improve your community and yourself. Call it the art of gift giving. It begins with your attitude. If you are giving because you have to, no wonder it stresses you out. Give because you want to, because the person deserves thanks and appreciation for what they have meant to you during the year. What does the person truly enjoy? What are the organizations or causes they believe in and to which ones do they give their time and money? Once you’ve identified the cause, take the amount of money you were going to spend on some token gift and make a contribution in honor of the person you 54
want to recognize. If money is tight, you can donate time to a charity, such as helping to deliver meals, maybe for just one day, through Meals On Wheels Atlanta. Notify your friend through a card or note that your gift to them this year is a commitment to volunteer at their favorite charity a certain number of hours in 2013. Just imagine getting that card, rather than a fruit basket, a coffee mug or a tie or scarf. This also works for acknowledging the people you work with. Instead of giving each co-worker holiday cards, which are not cheap, donate that money to a charity your company supports such as The Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, United Way of Greater Atlanta, The Atlanta Food Bank, Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless, The American Cancer Society, The Empty Stocking Fund, Toys for Tots and the list can go on forever. You get the idea. Designate your contribution as a gift to your office and have the charity send an acknowledgement that can be posted on the bulletin board. Or you can do what my husband and I do: send out a holiday email, notifying co-workers a gift was made to a charity in their name. The benefits are many, including a tax deduction and saving time shopping, since most charities have websites where you can donate online. Time is a valuable commodity in our lives and few of us feel that we have enough time to do all the things we want or need to do. That’s why giving the gift of time to someone else all year round can be lifesaving and uplifting for you and the person in whom you invest. Is there someone in your congregation, neighborhood, your past, such as a retired employee, former teacher, or coach,
© Matthew Benoit | Dreamstime.com
First cover of Southern Seasons Magazine Holiday/Winter 2012-13 issue on newsstands December 2012.