Adopt the Gratitude and Giving Focus
It is said to be the most wonderful time of the year, or the most stressful, and for many of us a bit of both. The key to merriment is to focus on what is important. The holidays are often experienced as a time to remember the purpose of it all through spiritual beliefs and enjoying traditions gone by. They are also known as a season of giving. Giving can feel wonderful. Studies show that volunteering and sharing our good fortune financially is good for our health lowering cortisol levels and even helping us live a longer life, a way to feel more merry and bright. Gratitude is full of similar health benefits.
Our materialism and our hearts have huge commitment issues. Here today and gone tomorrow. We see an item, pine for an item, justify how it will bring us joy or make our lives so much easier, and once received we are often on to the next shiny object. How many things do you still have that you were convinced would buy happiness? Obsolete stereo systems that take up half the room and leather jackets that at best might come back in vogue in another decade. This is painfully obvious with our kids too. We shop for that rare, already out of stock item for our child with great time and effort only to find that they have changed their list on December 23rd. When gift opening is upon us, eighteen hours of in store and online shopping is quickly amounts to seven minutes of fun. A toddler can recklessly rip through it in two.
Another thing that quickly comes and goes is time. I feel that same reckless toddler vibe as I run around from event to event. I get settled on a few things on the calendar and before I know it every minute has the high possibility of getting booked. Between the elves on shelves, the Christmas parade in every hamlet, the open houses, and trying to do the nostalgic few things you did as a child, it can become too much of a good thing. I have a situation next weekend where I have to drop one child at a parade, hopefully laying eyes on her shasay once or twice with the dance troupe before I run kid two to his school's Christmas performance. I hope I can actually stop and take it in.
I know you too are tired, overcommitted and bought double the gifts you intended already, but it's not too late to make gratitude and giving your focus. First, since it is the season of giving, instead of getting flustered with the gifts you are expected to buy or the time you need to extend, take moments to think how great it is that you are part of your family and community. When you buy your bus driver a gift, think of how thankful you are for the convenience they give your life. When asked to do another family get together, think about what each member brings to your life, or what time together means to your children.
And whether it is gifts or time, think about what really matters, the things that last. With gifts, don't give just the shiny, give the legacy. There are so many thoughtful gifts that give back, one I recently discovered donating to is Cuso CAN fund from Cuso International. This organization is all about the exponential return. They are currently sending trained professionals to Ethiopia to help with maternal health where 80% of mothers give birth without medical assistance. Ethiopia's maternal mortality rate is 482 out of 100,000, mothers who die with issues related to chidlbirth, in Canada it is 7 out of 100,00o mothers, a stark difference. Through support, Cuso International sends passionate professionals to live in these communities to give their time for six months to two years to teach and train medical and non medical skills to those living in the community they are serving, Canadian doctors and midwives training their Ethiopian counterparts. For $10 a month you could be part of the solution helping with maternal health which leads to healthy parents and healthy care for children. A gift that can truly grow on so many levels.
Find something that tugs at your heart strings, a cause worth getting behind, a place you can volunteer your skills and invest into that. Armed with the focus of gratitude and giving, you are sure to have a healthier and happier season.