First 30 Days Blog

14 nov

The Greatest Holiday Gift

JayForteAh, the holiday season. And we are already bombarded with a Sunday paper that tips the scales with gift ads. TV and radio ads remind us of the best gifts to give, who not to forget and how to make the holidays special. Buy, buy, buy.

I don’t know about you but this can do a great job of interfering with the kind of holiday I want to have if I let it. I don’t want a holiday of stuff – I want a holiday of experiences and stories. I want a holiday of emotions and connection. I want the memories.

As kids, it wasn’t just the gifts that made us feel so terrific about the holidays, it was the memories of feeling important, cared for, loved and special. I remember very few of the gifts I received over so many past holidays. What I do remember instead is singing carols, having neighbors over, decorating the house and eating treats that only showed up at the holidays. When I think of these, I am immediately brought back to sitting by the Christmas tree. I can smell the evergreen. I can see the lights and tinsel. I can smell the cakes baking and can hear the laughing from the other rooms as neighbors come by. I am immediately transported to happy times. It was the event. It was the feeling. It wasn’t the stuff.

So here are some of my ideas of holiday gifts that move away from the stuff and go for the memories:

Hosting a party with friends where we celebrate our time together.

Having brunch with my kids where we can talk about life, their dreams of starting families and loving the moments we spend together.

Sending and receiving cards that say, though we haven’t spoken in a while, you are still in my thoughts.

Playing music that is festive and celebratory, inspiring a feeling of peace and calm.

Walking with friends, or as a family, through towns and streets decorated with things that are bright, happy and festive.

Telling stories around the table with parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, about what life was like, how each celebrated the holidays, and what made life great.

Stopping for a hot chocolate on a cold night, because we haven’t done it in a while and nothing beats the smell of hot chocolate – with whipped cream or marshmallow.

Taking an extra day off from work to be at home (not out shopping) and playing games, working on family projects or inventing a new recipe together.

Making a video where each person in the family, or each friend, records a memory of the holidays, then shares the message with the rest of the world on YouTube.

Committing the time to learn how to discuss and communicate about the things that are important to each member of the family – to help them discover their talents, strengths and passions and build a life they love.

Buying recycling bins and having everyone in the household learn how to recycle everything that can be recycled – a gift to the planet.

Being invited to, and sharing in, another person’s holiday traditions with an open mind and an appreciation for its importance to that person.

Selecting something that the receiver adores, and the giver does not add to his debt.

Holidays are terrific. They make us stop the routine and come together to celebrate. And giving seems very much a part of the holiday. But we don’t have to give until we’re broke. We also know that things never truly bring happiness, memories do.

A good friend of mine has a small artificial Christmas tree that he leaves up and lit all year. Each month, he, his wife and his son, exchange small gifts. As he told me, it is not about the gifts. It is about a small Christmas tree that stays lit all year in their house to remind them that every day is to be celebrated. Brilliant.

So as the holiday approaches, may you find new ways to celebrate. May the gifts you give and receive be personal, focused on feelings and create memories. Wishing you amazing holidays that you fondly remember forever.

Jay Forte is a business and motivational speaker, life and workplace coach. He is the author of the books, The Greatness Zone – Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform the World, and Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, and the on-line resource, Stand Out and Get Hired. He works to connect people to their talents and passions to help them live fired up! More information at www.TheGreatnessZone.com and www.LiveFiredUp.com.

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Posted by Jay Forte on November 14th, 2010 in Family, General, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Teens, Things We Love | 0 comments Read related posts in , , , , , ,

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