Monday, December 12, 2011

What's on your Christmas gift list?

Many of us are caught up in the hustle and bustle of last-minute holiday shopping. As we go about our busyness, my thoughts drift toward Christmas, work and life in general. What's really important to give or get? 

I have been joking with friends and family about material things I want, like a puppy or an espresso machine. But when I honestly reflect on Christmas, I have a much deeper list of what I'd really like to give and get. These gifts do not have a monetary value, so everyone can afford them. These gifts do not have a shelf life, so they may be used at anytime throughout the year. Here's what I want to give and get:

The gift of humor: Laughter draws people together. Whether at work or with family and friends, take a minute to laugh together. Avoid laughing at someone else's expense but laugh outloud. A hard, belly laugh. Research has proved laughter has positive side effects on health,longevity and long term relationships.

The gift of listening: At home or at work, listen carefully to what people say. The topics that are most important to them will often come up in casual, formal or professional conversations. Ask questions and really listen to the answers. You may not be able to solve the problem but a listening ear can ease the burden for another person. 

The gift of attention and time: We live in a world of instant gratification. There's never enough time to get everything done. Instead of doing three things at once, mentally slow down and be in the moment with your family,friends and co-workers. (Yes, I'm talking to myself on this one). Is there someone in your life telling you what's bothering or worrying them? Give them your full attention. It makes them feel valued and you'll understand them better. Life is too short not to make time to slow down, connect and forgive. 

The gift of thanks: Adopt an attitude of gratitude. Do you have a job? Even if you dislike the people and the work. Be thankful that you are employed. Take a moment to send a card or verbally thank those who helped you in some way this year. Make it a practice next to write down weekly or evenly monthly a few things(or people) you are thankful for. It's amazing to look back on the list after one year and be able to count your blessings.

The gift of prayer: Whatever your religious or denominational leanings, you can always pray for someone who is going through a struggle. You can also offer a celebratory prayer for someone experiencing good fortune. Either way, it takes your mind off of you and allows you to consider someone else. Pray for those who irritate you or those you find less than pleasant to be around. There may be something else deeper going on with that person. Don't allow petty differences to get in the way of your personal or professional relationships. Forgive them and move on.

My Christmas hopes for us all include:
May we celebrate our individual beliefs without apology.
May we seek solutions to disagreements by honestly communicating.
May we ask for support when we need it.
May we offer to support someone else when they need it.
May we surrender to the truth and forgive others when they wrong us.
May we avoid negative influences and the wagging tongues of gossip.
May we seek to grow, serve and be an example of the greatest gift of all! 

Merry Christmas! What's on your list that cannot be bought in a store or online?