Thank you to our guest blogger Sarah Emerson. After reading through her entry, please scroll to the bottom of the page for information on her blog.
These days, during the holiday season so much emphasis is attached to gift giving.
When I think back to Christmases of my past, I can barely remember gifts that I had been given, except for the ones that really meant a lot to me: a ream of paper and a set of scented markers, a Barbie Dream House, my favorite teddy named Oatmeal, and my Cabbage Patch Preemie Abigail. I'm sure the rest were great and loved, but for me, what resonates the most is how my loved ones made me feel.
Giving family gifts is great, but I believe families should focus more on non-material aspects of life and celebrating your loved ones by showing how you feel, giving them your time, your knowledge, your help, or just your presence. What we may consider the everyday norm may be felt as special by others. Often the best gifts are free.
"My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?" —Bob Hope
I knew that my mother worked long and hard each day to be able to provide for my sister and l. That made me feel loved and feel appreciative of having such a wonderful mom.
My grandmother Julia gently taking care of me as I was sick in bed with a cold one weekend when my parents were on vacation made me feel loved and in good hands.
Sitting for hours with my grandfather Eugene while we watched baseball games, wrestling, or old Army movies on TV made me feel a quiet camaraderie and strong bond.
My extended family gathering to fill my grandmother's tiny house during the holidays, so packed full that there was literally almost nowhere to sit- even on the carpet, made me feel like I had the best family in the world.
A hand-written thank you note from my boss makes me feel appreciated.
My nephew announcing to everyone that, "Aunt Sarah makes the best brownies in the whole world," makes me feel special, even if my brownies come from a boxed mix.
The artwork my daughter creates and orders me to display at work gives me the knowledge that she loves me and wants everyone else to know.
The weekend phone call with both of my parents on speakerphone that carries on for an hour or more sometimes, makes me feel loved, cared for, and missed.
The loud, "Mama!" and running tackle/hug/neck squeeze that my son gives me when I pick him up at daycare makes me feel like a good mom.
Paying it forward
"Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others." —Booker T. Washington
I try to leave post-it notes for my husband in unexpected places like his computer desk, in his wallet, on the dashboard of his car. I want him to feel loved, appreciated, and needed.
If I am in a meeting where cookies are being served, I will often wrap one in a napkin and take it home as a surprise for my kids to share.
I tell my children each night how much they are loved and how happy I am that they are mine.
I like to give some of my artwork to my favorite coworkers to let them know how much I care and appreciate their hard work.
I love to color and play with my nieces and nephews so that they feel how much I love them and care to spend time with them. My aunts and uncles rarely did so with me.
I will randomly send my sister a letter in the mail, just to tell her that she is the best and that I miss her.
I try to volunteer my time when possible and donate clothes my kids have outgrown or things we don't need any longer so that others may benefit from the blessings I and my family have been given.
So, to recap, receiving gifts is nice and often useful, but time spent together, sharing your feelings, showing appreciation, showing up, and other non-material gifts can be the most special, loved, and remembered of all.
For more information about Sarah and her social media links, subscribe to her blog at: www.momminintherealworld.com