Okay, we’ve finished the leftovers and waved goodbye to the company who shared a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with us. Now December is here and a new holiday season has officially begun. Dreams and plans about decorating ideas, recipes for holiday treats and celebrations to share with family and friends whirl through my mind, interrupted on occasion with reminders about the number of shopping days left before gifts are exchanged. I know some of you already have your presents bought, wrapped and under your beautifully decorated tree. To you I say, “Congratulations!” Of course, you’ll miss all the holiday lights. No, not those that adorn the houses in our neighborhoods, I mean those red taillights the rest of us will be staring at as we crawl along in traffic heading to the mall. You won’t experience the thrill of the hunt as you cruise around for that one last empty parking space, and the exercise from hiking your way across the lot as you juggle your packages and search for your keys. You’ll miss fighting the crowds for the last minute sales offered on the few sought-after items still on the shelves. You won’t get the adrenaline rush that comes from hurrying to creatively wrap gifts and get them under the tree before it’s time for family to rip that paper right off. To those of you who, like me, are busy making your gift list, creatively reworking your schedule to find shopping time, and mustering up the courage to dive into the crowds and experience holiday shopping at its best (?) I say, “We can do it. Just take a deep breath and repeat after me: ’tis the season to be jolly!” My family has begun our annual conversation that goes something like this. Me saying, “What would you like for Christmas? Need anything? Want something special?” to which the reply comes, “I don’t know. Let me think about it and get back to you.” Get back to me? What do they mean? Haven’t they heard those warnings from the media that time is running out?! ‘Looks like once again I’ll need to generate my own idealist: what to give the special people in my life. All complaining aside, I look forward to this season of sharing. It’s a wonderful time to express my love to the people God has brought into my life. Some have needs that are apparent: I know just what to give. Others invite creative thinking on my part as I consider how to share the spirit of the season with them. There are gifts that require a purchase while others ask only my time and attention. Some will be experienced the moment they are given while others will be enjoyed long after the season ends. If you, too, are working on your gift list, perhaps some of these ideas will be the perfect fit. In fact, these suggestions may encourage you to add to your list of people to honor this holiday season. • Make an extra portion of your favorite homemade dish to share with a neighbor. • Baby-sit for a single parent who has some shopping to do. • Donate some gently used clothing to an area mission. • Participate in a holiday program your church offers as a gift to the community. • Offer your volunteer services to a community organization or ministry. • Stay in touch with someone you know who is dealing with a loss in life. • Take care of your own health as a gift to your family. • Donate to your favorite charity in honor of someone. • Be patient with the sales clerks who are trying to meet everyone’s needs. • Hold the door open for the person behind you. • Rake the leaves and pine needles for someone who has difficulty with yard work. • Smile at those who cross your path. • Create meaningful times of celebration and memories with your family. • Give a hug. • Give hope. • Share the story of God’s amazing gift of love: His Son. I could continue on but I have to hurry: the clock’s ticking and there are gifts waiting to be given. Happy holidays! Nancy Williams, LPC is a licensed professional counselor, life coach, speaker and writer. Send comments or questions to her at www.nancywilliams.net.

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