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What is the Greatest Holiday Gift?

Written by: | Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

I was listening to the radio today to two announcers who were panicking about how much shopping they had still left to do before Christmas. So how is it that we take great holidays and reduce them to a checklist of things to buy?

When we were kids, my dad was insistent that if we were giving something as a gift (notice I said “if” because he always felt it was better to do something than to give something) – but if we were giving something, then it had to be handmade. It had to show effort and love. It required time and thought. And our grandparents and family displayed our gifts as if they were priceless – not for what we made, but for the effort in making them.

Today’s economy has a great number of lessons for us – but the most important is that life is still great, even if we have less to spend. We need to find other ways to remember and celebrate the people in our lives besides buying things with money we don’t have.

So in the spirit of the lessons I learned as a kid, I thought I would offer some unusual gifts that are more about the meaning than the price tag:

• Design a card that is completely personalized and in it, share some of the reasons why your life is better because of the person.

• Select one thing the other person hates to do (laundry, errands, etc) and offer to do it for a day or a week.

• Find a picture of you and the other person – frame it and write about an event or time you shared together.

• Buy a notebook or journal and write the first entry – write what makes this person extraordinary (so they can start each day of their journal by reading what you think of them).

• Allow the person to “sleep in” by taking the kids/dog/etc. out of the house. Have coffee ready at a particular hour.

• Plan a nature walk, bike ride, museum visit, or other activity – an activity that the other person loves.

• Spend the afternoon together and turn off your cell phone and laptop.

We can modify our traditions – we can change our behavior. We don’t need to spend ourselves into debt or add stuff we don’t need to our landfills. We have the ability of making our holidays about the emotional connection between people – about appreciating and valuing experiences and time with each other. Nothing special needed – just some effort, time and attention to what matters to others.

May your holidays be merry, emotional and make you feel loved and appreciated. May you build wonderful holiday experiences that make you smile long after the holidays are over.

Next week we have a new year in our sights and we focus on Being Better – about raising the bar in 2012 and how the Greatness Zone thinking can help. For the powerful life and career tools, and to learning the greatness approach in all you do, be sure to see

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