“Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons.” ~Ruth Ann Schabacker
Regardless of what holiday you celebrate, or how you honor it, there’s no denying this is an emotionally loaded time of year.
We either remind ourselves how grateful we are for all the people we love, or we remember how much it hurts that we don’t have people like that in our lives.
We either celebrate all our blessings, or we look toward the year to come, wondering if we’ll have more then.
You may find yourself reflecting on last Christmas in awe of how much has changed for the better in just one year’s time.
Or you may look back on the last twelve months wistfully, wishing things could be the way they were.
We’ll all experience the holiday season in many different ways over the course of our lives.
Whatever your unique situation this year—whether you’re in a growth cycle or working through feelings of loss—you have a lot to give and receive.
5 Gifts You Can Receive Today
1. Your breath.
It’s one of those things we take for granted—the air that gives us life. We don’t even need to think about breathing; we do it automatically.
Clearly we can appreciate that our breath sustains us, but it can do so much more. When we focus on breathing deeply, it can ground us, calm us, detoxify us, and even heal us.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Look at your hands, your feet, the tip of your nose. Fully inhabit your body. You’re here. You’re alive.
2. Your freedom.
I write this knowing this may not be true of everyone, but I’m willing to bet most of us have our freedom.
Most of us can choose what we do today. We can choose what we think, where we go, who we surround ourselves with, and whether or not we allow ourselves to appreciate what’s in front of us. It’s not a question of whether we have freedom; it’s a question of whether we’ll use it.
3. Your senses.
The smell of warm pie, which evokes something visceral from happy childhood memories. The crisp air that makes you feel alert and alive. The full blend of voices harmonizing holiday songs.
We have the capacity to perceive and feel so much. Fully experience it all. Let yourself breathe it in. See it, hear it, taste it—live it.
4. Opportunities for connection.
Whether we spend the day with family, friends, or acquaintances that have yet to become them, we all have the opportunity to really connect with the people in front of us.
We can open up, invite them to do the same, and remind each other that we are part of something greater than ourselves.
5. Lessons for growth.
Every day teaches us something that can help us going forward. If we’re self-aware and open, we can learn about ourselves, who we want to be, how we want to live, and what we need to do to facilitate that.
Whether it’s a laid back, relaxing day, or a challenging, stressful day, take something from this experience that will guide you on the journey ahead.
5 Gifts You Can Give Today
1. Your attention.
As adults, we often rush children to get to their point, when sometimes they’re just excited to have the spotlight. It’s not about finishing their story; it’s about their joy in getting to share it without interruptions.
We still want and need that as grown-ups, and we’re always grateful to receive it. Listening fully beats a sweater any day.
2. Your appreciation.
Everyone enjoys a compliment. That might mean praising someone’s stuffing or festive shirt, but I’ve found the most gratifying compliments are the ones that come from thoughtful observation.
It’s recognizing someone’s consistently upbeat nature, or how often they try when others would give up. It’s noticing the things we all want others to recognize, but fear that maybe they don’t.
3. Your acceptance.
There may be some people in your life you simply don’t understand. Try as you may, you just don’t get why they do what they do.
We should never tolerate being mistreated; we need to set boundaries to take care of ourselves. But once we’ve done that, we can then choose to accept people for who they are.
We can focus on the things we can control—our choices and responses—and then release the need to push others to change.
When we treat people how we want to be treated, we not only treat them with care, we also show them how it’s done.
4. Your forgiveness.
The other day I found a quote by Henry Ward Beecher that read: “I can forgive but I cannot forget is only another way of saying ‘I don’t forgive.’” I disagree.
We need to remember so we can learn and make smart decisions in the future. But that doesn’t mean we can’t fully feel compassion, release our anger, and free ourselves from the pain of bitterness and resentment.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: No one gets to the end of their life and says, “I wish I stayed angry longer.” One day, you’ll know it’s time to let go. Why not make that time now?
5. Your light.
Somewhere underneath all our fears, insecurities, and hurts, we each have a light.
Those lights may actually be brighter because of the darkness we’ve experienced, but in order to access them now, we need to take a deep breath and see beyond all the weight we carry around.
We need to clear our heads and hearts of worries and gripes and choose to be fully where we are.
We are all worthy, beautiful, and valuable to the world around us. Believe it and then act on it by doing something from your heart.
Even it’s something small—especially if it’s something small. Every tiny act of love and kindness makes the world a better place.
I’d appreciate the gift of your thoughts! Leave a comment and let me know if there’s anything you’d add to the lists.
**This post was originally published in 2012. I shared this again today as I’m enjoying such much needed and appreciated time off my family. Happy holidays, friends!