The True Christmas Spirit
Learning to give, not get.
Published: December 23, 2012
Embrace this holiday’s blessings.
We were so sad to learn that Susan Jeffers passed away on October 27, 2012 after a three-year battle with cancer. We share her inspiration and wisdom here in loving tribute to our beloved Hay House author.
As you look around, you will notice that more and more children are being denied the spirit of the Holidays. "Not my kids, Susan? My kids always have so many gifts to open!" Well, as I see it, that's part of the problem. Their expectations of getting are huge, but their understanding of giving is often non-existent. Let me emphasize that this is a huge loss in terms of the child's sense of self.
In my book Life is Huge, I tell this wonderful story: One of my workshop students was horribly dismayed when all her six-year-old daughter could say after opening a huge amount of gifts one Christmas day was "Is that all?" Hearing that, she couldn't believe how spoiled and insatiable her daughter had become. Then she had an idea which made all the difference in the world.
Starting the following January, she and her daughter began making gifts that were meant to be distributed to the children at a local hospital the following Christmas day. Month after month, her daughter enjoyed making these gifts. By the time the following Christmas came along, she showed much more excitement about going to the hospital and giving away the gifts than getting the gifts her mother had purchased for her. She then couldn't wait to begin making the hospital gifts for the following year.
What creates this kind of excitement? I believe that when we make it a practice of teaching children how to give, they gain a whole new sense of themselves. And to be someone who can give something to others without expecting anything back, as is the case with giving to sick children in the hospital, is to know the meaning of love.
There are so many ways we can involve the children in preparation for the holidays—selecting and wrapping gifts for family and friends, helping to prepare the food, setting the table and so on. If children are old enough for pocket money, suggest they use some of this money to buy gifts for the family and their friends instead of you doing all the buying for them. They may balk, but again, it's a matter of self-esteem. If they don't have enough pocket money, they can make their own personal "love" gifts from paper, glue, wood, paints, crayons and the like. (I still treasure the little gifts my children made for me so many years ago.) If you take over and do it all for them, they lose out on the incredibly wonderful feeling of contributing to someone else's life.
And here's an added benefit. I do believe that learning how to become a giver will definitely help the bad moods and tantrums that children display which could so easily ruin a Holiday celebration for everyone. If you haven't learned it already, there is little that can be done to control the bad moods and tantrums of children! I would suspect, however, that the more they are involved in the "giving", the less focused they will be on the "getting." And, after all, aren't tantrums mostly about not "getting" something?
Bottom line: Many of our children today are expecting to get much too much. How truly fulfilled they would become if they learned the true meaning of giving! And the really good news is: The experience of giving during the Holiday season might encourage them to become givers all year round! Fantastic!
Now that we have the children taken care of, let me make just two suggestions to help us adults feel great about the Holiday season instead of being all stressed out:
- As you wrap each gift, take a moment to picture the recipient in your mind's eye, and thank them silently for their contribution to your life. Thank you...thank you...thank you. Magical words. The thank-you’s in your mind create a feeling of blessing in your life. Wrapping gifts in this way makes it not a chore, but a gift you give yourself.
- Instead of lamenting the time you spend shopping, cooking, and the like, notice how lucky you are—physically, mentally and financially—to be able to shop, cook, and the like! Again thanks are in order. Saying thanks to the powers that be, whatever that means to you, makes you feel abundant and, again, you can relax with the thought of how blessed you are.
Embracing the blessings of the Holiday season with a big thank you in your heart is the best stress-buster one could ask for. How great it is!
Copyright © 2009 Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. All rights reserved. Adapted from her book Life is Huge!: Laughing, Loving and Learning from It All.
Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. is considered one of the top self-help authors in the world. The Times (London) named Susan "the Queen of Self-Help" ranking her alongside such influential gurus as Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and Deepak Chopra.