Some of you may be frantically scrambling to buy for everyone on your gift list, and we want to gently and lovingly remind you to take a pause. Check in with yourself. Is gift-giving really the spirit of the season? Are gifts what we remember, or is it the good food, the music, and the time with the people whom we love and are connected to? We’re willing to bet it’s the latter.
Certainly, if you have kids, everyone knows children delight in the gifting aspect of the holidays. But what about the adults? Is it really important that you get all your aunties a sweater, or might they be as happy with some homemade cookies, or a thoughtful card? So often the pressure to make others happy comes down to dollars and cents, and sure, that’s great when you can afford it. But we’re more partial to the creative solutions individuals and families have come up with to create a less stressful, more interpersonally meaningful season. One of our staff members gives her loved ones homemade cards. Another family we know draw names from a hat, and buy just that person a gift. Yet another forgoes gifts entirely and makes a charitable donation in their family’s name. There are also wonderful organizations and even informal ones (such as at local parishes and community centers) that give gifts for children, or make donations of food, which you can donate to. You can give the gift of time, such as making an effort to visit people you don’t see often. You can make and deliver a meal for someone you know who is ailing, or has young children or a new baby and little time to cook. There are so many possibilities to make people feel loved and valued.
Every family has different traditions, and we think those are important. They mark the passage of time, celebrate the seasons, honor our most treasured connections. They elevate everyday life to something special. Here at NCC we have a tradition of decorating cookies together. It’s a simple ritual, but a way for us to gather and laugh and do something just for fun and enjoyment. Joy is far from frivolous—it’s what gets us all through hard times. It is the well we draw from for resilience when things get tough, as they do for everyone. We are all sharing this human experience.
From our family here to yours, let there be peace on Earth and joy to you this holiday season.
-Korina Jochim, LMFT, The Northwest Catholic Counseling Center’s Clinical Manager