There are no greater gifts than simply taking time to be happily together - in person, on the phone, on skype - time. The gift of time can take other forms - gifts specially made by hand with heartfelt attention.
We make special effort at Christmas to share time together and seek just the right gifts. Our imaginations come alive. This year I'm so happy to be surrounded by many people who spend all year with a spirit of Christmas. They give their time freely and look for opportunity to create joy. It's a focus of their lives.
These people look for opportunity to make a difference, to do acts of kindness - sometimes large and sometimes small.
You might be thinking that's easy for people whose lives are good. "I have blah, blah, blah going on. I need to focus on my family first."
In each of my "doer" friends lives there are struggles. Some are caring for aging parents or struggling children. Some have suffered loss. They face financial struggles. They still find opportunity to help strangers and friends alike. It makes them happier people and very lovely to spend time around. I want to be more like them. And it just keeps growing.
The acts of kindness may be simple and seemingly small gestures like offering to carry a stranger's bag to the car at the store. Running to the store for a friend who has posted a stressed out message on facebook about not having what they need to bake cookies. Painting rocks of inspiration for unknown people to find. Making sure a young woman has a dress to wear for the prom.
It requires awareness. Seeing. Seeking. Acting.
For me it's a spiritual awakening. I have a tendency to be very self contained and introspective to a point that I can miss things happening around me where I could make a difference. We have to train ourselves to see opportunities of all kinds. If we are only aware of our own troubles and needs, we can't see anything else. We will miss opportunity to create and feel joy.
It makes a difference in the lives of everyone involved, most especially our own. Everyone grows happier and it's contagious.