You are trying to manage your new career and your stretched budget. Your leave time is limited and every day seems packed with work and chores. As the holidays quickly approach, shopping for gifts can become more and more stressful, especially when your funds are limited.
If time and talent permit, you can prepare and give baked goods or handmade gifts. Perhaps you have a talent for writing or creating artwork and could do a special poem or small drawing for loved ones or friends. Or you could put together an online photo album from that family vacation last summer.
Don’t underestimate the impact of a gift you create for a loved one. There is a reason your mother has kept all those cards you made for her when your were in elementary school, or why your grandparents have a scrapbook of poems you wrote for them as you honed your craft as a writer. These were special because they expressed how you felt. Most importantly, they said you cared about them.
Sometimes we forget that caring itself can be a gift. Taking the time to write a holiday note to a relative or former teacher who lives at a distance, or calling that aunt or uncle you haven’t seen in a long time may be much appreciated.
Just making the effort to get home for the holidays can be the best present you can give your family. If you do travel to your home community, extend your caring efforts even further. Has a favorite neighbor relocated to a local nursing facility? Spend a half hour visiting her. Take an inexpensive gift of candy, a small plant, or home baked goods. You may be one of the few visitors she gets this season.
Does your grandparents’ car need washed and vacuumed? Does it need new wiper blades or an oil change? What small repairs or tasks need done around their house? If a relative is hosting the holiday dinner, can you assist with preparations? Does a shut-in family friend need help with shopping or wrapping presents? Does someone need transportation to get to a religious service?
Too often, we think of going home for the holidays as another task, another “to-do” in our busy schedules. Or we think of it as a respite, a chance to be that inner child again, to be able to sleep in, to have your favorite food prepared for you, to lie on the couch and read or watch old movies. That can be a part of your visit, but time spent with family can be so much more, and so much more meaningful.
If you are observant and thoughtful, you will find numerous small and inexpensive ways to express your caring side this holiday. For many of your relatives and friends, that will be the best gift of all.