So Thanksgiving is right around the corner and, of course, Christmas and Hanukkah are right behind it.    And every year I vow to simplify my life and what I do and really make it about the spirit of the holiday this year.  I like to think that I have made some progress in this area but, let’s face it, it is a busier time of year.  There are certain things that won’t happen if you don’t make them happen – things like Thanksgiving dinner,  Christmas trees, and the sending out of holiday greetings, if you do that sort of thing.   I like to do all of them and I also like to look forward to the season, instead of strategizing about how to get through it relatively sanely.  The holidays do add more to what already seems like a very full plate for a lot of us.  For me, though, its significance lies in that it has become the time of year I connect with others that are important to me, both family and friends, and some people that may simply make up the fabric of my daily or weekly routine.

We have always sent out a family holiday card each year and that has become an important tradition for us.  From the first year of my son’s life to the present, we have sent out a picture postcard greeting of the three of us.  There are special people in my life who have never met him because they live far away, but have been able to (sort of) watch him grow up from year to year.  Every year I hear from at least one person who tells me how much it has meant to them to be included in our lives this way.  It’s been a great way to stay in touch, even if only occasionally, and so it is something I will keep on doing.  It adds meaning to their lives, and ours, too.

Each holiday,  I get together with a group of dear friends and colleagues for a dinner to celebrate the season.  This year we have decided that, instead of our usual gift exchange, we will each make a donation to a charity of our choice instead.  Everyone was in agreement when this sugggestion was first made, and I think it gave all of us a good feeling to know that we were going to contribute something in the spirit of the season on each other’s behalf.   As heartfelt as a gift might be, it seems to touch a bit more deeply to know that  maybe someone will be provided a hot meal, or a grocery card for food they otherwise might not have to eat.  And, once again, it makes the holiday a bit more meaningful.   I know it has been been important for me over time to find that meaning at this time of year.  It makes the season richer, gives it a sense of purpose.  And I’m the one who benefits.  Whether it’s a homemade treat for co-workers, donating to a food or toy drive,  giving the gift of your time to help out at a holiday event, or even just listen to someone and give them your full attention – whatever you do this season that brings a sense of purpose will come back to you in countless ways.  You’ll feel good about your contribution,  an increased sense of community, and more connected to those around you.   And that adds up to feeling good.