Why You Should Ask a Different Question This Holiday

Most of us have asked our kids or grandkids, spouses, or siblings, parents, or coworkers, "What do you want for Christmas?"

We encourage them to wish for things during the holiday season.  And the answers are usually material items:  toys, clothes, things for the home, or some other tangible or experiential gift they've been wanting.  

Or maybe the answer is, "Nothing!  I already have everything I need."  Maybe the desires are intangible:  "I just want us to get together this season."  Or even, "I wish the vaccine for COVID could be developed and perfected and available ASAP."

loving father and son

But there's another question we should ask ourselves and others this holiday:

What can you give this Christmas?

We all have abilities and resources that we can share with others.  Even children can come up with good answers to this question – gifts they can give to friends, family, neighbors, and even strangers.  When we make it a habit to ask a different question, we can gradually change our default holiday mindset from "what I want to get" to "what I'm able to give."

32 gifts for everyone that anyone can give this holiday

1.  Smile!

2.  Faithfully observe COVID protocols (it's not about compliance – it's about compassion).

3.  Share cheerful holiday greetings.

4.  Hold the door for someone.

5.  Let someone get in line before you.

6.  Pay for the coffee order of the person in line behind you.

7.  Be patient and cheerful with anyone who serves you.

8.  Donate to the local food pantry.

9.  Choose unneeded toys in good condition to donate to a local daycare, preschool, or domestic abuse shelter.

10.  Donate excess coats and winter gear to a homeless shelter, rather than keeping them for yourself "just in case."

11.  Put a dollar in the Salvation Army bucket.

12.  Write a thank you note, not for a gift received, but for how kind/thoughtful/helpful/awesome someone has been to you all year.

13.  Offer an evening of babysitting so young parents can shop.

14.  Follow up with someone who lost a loved one this year.  We tend to express sympathy and then forget about it, even though people are still grieving.

holiday gift
15.  Help a neighbor with yard work.

16.  Hang extra lights on your house to brighten your neighborhood.

17.  Double your dinner recipe, and deliver the extra meal to someone in quarantine (call ahead, of course, to make arrangements).

18.  Go caroling.

19.  Donate blood.

20.  Quit complaining.

21.  Let your sibling (or someone else) choose the game or movie (or restaurant or other activity).

22.  Give a sincere compliment.

23.  Write a letter to a deployed service member.

24.  Pray for someone outside of your usual list.

25.  Pick up trash as you walk around your neighborhood or through the park.

26.  Take care of a chore that is not normally your responsibility.

27.  Make and send a holiday card to a hospitalized child (it's not too late for New Year cards).

28.  Be a patient, courteous driver.

29.  Say you're sorry.

30.  Call someone with whom you've been out of touch.

31.  Say "I love you."

32.  Turn off notifications, turn off the TV, and give your focused and undivided attention.

I think the joy of what you can give will far outweigh anything you get this season.

Updated May 2023


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