The holiday season’s a busy time. And the holidays don’t just happen on their own, we make them happen. In fact, a lot of people go out of their way to make everything happen, in this beautiful season of love and giving. It’s a pretty special time of year.
But you want to know a secret? You can make it even more special than it already is. And it doesn’t even take much effort. It just takes a little bit of awareness, paying attention to the little things.
We put a lot of effort into Christmas, and finding just the right gift for the people we love – well, most of us, anyway – but sometimes the best gifts are the ones that don’t cost anything at all. And many times those are the ones that are most needed and valued.
Last year about this time, I noticed a lot of little things happening as I was out and about doing my Christmas shopping. I noticed little gifts that were being given in very subtle ways. Little gifts that didn’t even cost a thing, and weren’t wrapped up in pretty paper with glittery ribbons. Little gifts that weren’t presented with a lot of fanfare. They were actually almost difficult to discern if you weren’t paying attention.
What were some of those gifts? Well, as I passed a couple standing in a store aisle, I noticed the woman going on and on and on about what they still needed to do that afternoon while running their errands.
As she rattled on while staring off into space, her husband leaned over and silently kissed her on the cheek. He didn’t say a word, and she didn’t stop talking, he just did it out of the clear blue nowhere. He could see that she was stressing out and gave her exactly what she needed right then. I couldn’t help smiling as I walked by, and I thought she was one lucky lady.
In another store, more gifts were being given. A wink and a smile from one loved one to another. A parent gently teasing their children. In another store, an arm slipped around a waist, and a tug. Little gifts, yes, but they mean so much. It almost seems like the more unnecessary they appear, the more important they are.
These little gifts. They say, “Hey, I like you,” or “You’re special to me,” or “I’m happy you’re mine” without saying a single word. And they make people feel so special, these little gifts.
Holding hands while driving to a destination in the car together. Helping someone on with their coat. Dropping them off in front of the store, parking the car and bringing it around again when it’s time to go.
One day I was out shoveling my driveway, and my neighbor who was walking by came over and gave me a big smile and a hug for no reason at all. It was a lovely moment and made me smile. We need more of this stuff going around.
Someone holds a door open for you, helps a parent with a stroller, shovels your sidewalk for you. Wonderful little gifts that don’t cost a thing, don’t need a box, or take any time to wrap. They last only a moment and then they are gone, but the special feeling that results stays for a very long time.
And the neat thing is that people who feel special and appreciated tend to spread that happiness around. It only takes a bit of awareness and thoughtfulness, and look at the joy it brings.
Such a great return for such a very small investment. And that’s exactly what they are, these gestures. They are investments that produce tremendous dividends. It’s important then, if you like the way things are going, to invest in those relationships that bring you happiness, no matter what type of relationship it is. Because if you stop investing in it, it’s sure to go away.
So if you have important people in your life that bring good and wonderful things into it, make sure you let them know. Find a way to show how much you appreciate them and let them know that the light they bring is important to you. It only takes a moment. A gesture, a glance, a smile, a word.
As the Christmas holiday frenzy heightens in the coming weeks, I urge all of you to remain conscious to what little gifts you can give to the people in your life that bring you so much comfort and happiness at this time of year and all year long.
And once in awhile, choose a random stranger to gift as well. If what goes around comes around, it’ll be an extra special season for all of us.
Originally published December 5, 2014.