This guest article from PsychCentral is written by Linda Sapadin, PhD.
Are you tired of trying to figure out what gifts might delight your loved ones? Are you turned off by the shopping frenzy that has become 'de rigueur' for the holiday season? Instead of buying what the marketers insist is the 'perfect gift,' try doing things differently this year.
Here are my top four suggestions.
- The gift of listening. Take the time to listen to your loved ones. Be curious. Be there in mind and spirit. Listen to what is going on inside your loved one's mind. Avoid preaching. Avoid teaching. Thank your loved one for sharing. Communicate without judgment.
- The gift of spending time together. So many activities, so little time. Much to take care of, much to do. Where is the time for a loving hug? A funny joke? A creative game? A musical hour? A leisurely dinner? Make the time to be together without an agenda. Trust that good things will emerge spontaneously.
- The gift of embracing mistakes. Mistakes are no big deal! They are a fundamental part of learning. They are how we move forward. Demanding perfection makes people afraid to take chances. So this season, celebrate goofs instead. Pay homage to blunders. Appreciate how flubs (yours and others) enable us to grow.
- The gift of a captivating family tradition. If you develop a tradition that dramatizes an important message, you and your children will remember that message forever.
Here's an example of one family’s tradition that was developed when the kids were very young. It teaches a great lesson on attitude without any preaching whatsoever.
Every holiday season, each member of the family wrote down (with help for the very young ones) a list of "I can'ts" such as: "I can't hit a baseball very far; I can't understand long division; I can't get the popular kids to like me." Even the parents made a list. Here's a sampling of Mom’s: "I can't get Jenny to stop whining; I can't save any money; I can't lose weight."
When the lists were completed, they were put in a shoebox. Then the whole family trooped out to the backyard where shovels awaited. They dug a great big hole and buried the box with a ceremony conducted by Dad. "Family, we are gathered here today to bury our can'ts. Though I can't has died, his brother and sister 'I can' and 'I will' are still alive. Let 'I can't' rest in peace and may we all welcome 'I can' and 'I will into our lives. Amen."
When the kids were young, they took the ceremony seriously. When they were older, they rolled their eyes, but did it to humor their parents. When they were teens, the ceremony disbanded. No matter; the tradition was established, and to this day evokes fond memories. For on those rare occasions when someone complains that 'I can't,' a family member will pipe up to remind the person that 'I can't' is dead. Time to get in touch with 'I can' and 'I will.'
So how about it? Are you going to give your loved ones any singular, sensational gifts this year? Yes, if you must, you can buy gifts from the mall. But consider making more meaningful gifts your top priority.
More on Effective Communication from YourTango:
- The Key To Effective Communication
- Say What?: Effective Communication For Your Love Life
- Relationship Questions To Ask For Long-Term Commitment