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This is the season of giving. And at times it is the season of receiving. There are many holiday traditions whether it is religious or not. Some people celebrate Christmas, some Hanukkah, some the solstice, but no matter what you celebrate, there needs to be a balance. Many people get so stressed out especially with stores putting up decorations at Halloween. Some people even start Christmas shopping with the sales after Christmas the year before.

How many of you have bought all the gifts, and said to others, “don’t worry you don’t need to get me anything”? Inside, you wish that others would get you something in return. And then, your feelings are hurt, when they don’t get you anything. Being a martyr just doesn’t fit any longer.

The old paradigm of gift giving seems a little out of date. We live in a very material world. Children who tear through a pile of packages only learn to expect more. When the last gift has been looked at for a moment, they look around and ask, “Is that all?” They don’t learn from that type of giving what it’s like to give through the heart. What are we teaching our children?

As we grow older we learn what’s important in life. To me, I have learned that friends, family no matter whether they are blood relatives or not, and learning to give as well as receive from a sense of heartfelt gratitude is what’s important.

When you give from a sense of servitude or necessity and leave out the heart the energetics of that gift is not felt deeply. One of my pet peeves around gifts was when the giver would ask what I wanted. To me, that never seemed like a gift from the heart, only the pocketbook. I learned to give myself those gifts that I really wanted. When someone would think about what I wanted, and I could really feel it when I received it, those were the gifts I treasured the most.

This year I gave myself a beautiful wooden flute. I was able to support someone whose work I admired. I am giving a gift of a gifted artist, whose work is not always recognized. When I asked him to make this gift, his eyes lit up and I truly knew I made a difference. This way I gave two gifts, one to the artist and one that I hope will be cherished by the person who receives it. (If I tell who it’s for the surprise will be lost.)

My favorite way of giving is to find things throughout the year that I know someone would like and send it when I’m thinking of them. I also have learned to enjoy receiving. Often, it is only those words that someone says that mean so much or the acts of kindness from people each and every day.

Live in gratitude each and every day, love those who are around you, don’t be stingy with your compliments, and most of all learn to receive. Begin to look at people in your life as gifts, No matter whether they are gift-wrapped or hard to take they offer you something in their knowing you. Find the good in everyone, even your worst enemy, and it will bring you and them more joy. Call someone you haven’t spoken to for a long time.

May your holidays be filled with joy, love, and laughter. Take some time out for yourself and if no one remembers you, remember yourself.

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