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  • Writer's pictureLaura Skinner

Viewing Gift Giving as an Opportunity, Not an Obligation

Last December, I was super stressed about Christmas gifts. More than I’d ever been before. The night before I was supposed to be traveling back to Maryland to be with my family, I hardly slept. I was up all night worrying and working on gifts for my family. Coming up with last minute sewing projects for the perfect presents. I had planned to leave the next morning, but kept working well into the afternoon to finish making gifts. When I finally packed up and made it to my parents’ house, I was still on pins and needles trying to decide if the gifts I had were good enough. I ended up making a last minute shopping trip downtown because I thought I could just use “one more thing” to round out my gifts. I remember walking through the house and announcing my stress about gifts. It was kind of awful. For a lot of reasons.

Mainly, because (as we all know) Christmas is not about the gifts. It’s not about anything we get or give or do, it’s a celebration of Jesus’ birth and subsequently His life and what He gave for us.

The thing is, I truly love giving gifts. Curating a gift for someone’s birthday or a special occasion is something I’m a big fan of doing, and don’t like to do halfheartedly. When I was stressing out last Christmas about gifts, it made things that much worse because I didn’t know why I was struggling with something I really enjoy doing.

So when the holidays came around this year, I knew I needed to find a way to keep things in perspective. No stress. I decided I was going to use this as an opportunity to give my loved ones things that made me think of them. Things that I’ve seen in the store and thought, “oh, she’d love this,” but had no reason to buy at the time. That one thing we have in common or tv show we both love. I realized I had exaggerated the idea of gift giving into a display of my abilities. As an obligation to use every single one of my skills to hand make, hand select, find the perfect, most thoughtful gift to prove (to myself) that I knew my giftee well. Which is pretty ridiculous.

When I decided to view gift giving as an opportunity to give my loved ones something (anything), rather than an obligation to give them something perfect, it really gave me peace about the process (and made it 5000 times easier to shop and be done earlier than I ever have before!). It really is the thought, the intention, the care that counts. I think we can all agree that the tradition of material gift-giving has overtaken the holiday in major way. But I think with the right heart and understanding, giving to people you love can be a beautiful thing.

***And of course, there are so many ways to give to others during this season besides giving material gifts. Volunteer with an organization, serve people in your community that could use a helping hand, call a neighbor to check-in, donate to a family in need. Be the kindest, friendliest version of yourself to all the stressed people you bump carts with in the store. Even if it's difficult. The simplest gestures can mean so much. Take the opportunity, rather than letting the obligation take over you.

These were just some thoughts that helped me this Christmas season. Let me know if you have a good way to keep gift giving from getting overwhelming or over-emphasized during the holidays. I’d love to hear it.

As always, thanks for being here friend. Merry Christmas.

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