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December & the Gifts of Time, Gratitude, & Reflection

  • It's December and the holiday season is in full swing! For many that means shopping, decorating, and gatherings filling up the calendars plus holiday to-do lists. It can also be a time when we are feeling that the end of the year is coming and we have so much left to do. It's super easy to get caught up in the busyness during this time of the year. How do we slow things down and ground ourselves?

    One thing that works for me is to remember that the biggest gift we can give is our time. It's the biggest gift to ourselves and to others - consciously deciding how to spend our time and who to spend it with. We all know time is a precious resource, but do we give it the attention it deserves?

    Each day, take a moment to think about how you are spending your time that day. Is it how you want to spend the time? Is whatever you are doing of value to you and your loved ones? If there is something you HAVE to do, how can you make it better and of more value to you? An example is work. Most of us have to work but we can set aside time during the day for a break, a walk, meditation... or even just a reminder to breathe. Hit that reset button.

    Another important thing to ask yourself is what is really worth it to spend time and money on. Yes, it's the holiday season and we are often wrapped up (pun intended) in buying stuff. But before adding that item to your cart, think about if you really think it is worthwhile. And, when you can, make more impact with your spending like by shopping local, and buying from companies that donate when you purchase from them.

    Remember that giving someone our undivided attention is one of the biggest gifts we can give. Put that phone down and be present in the moments.

    December is a good time to continue practicing gratitude. Remember all that you have to be grateful for. I often think about how we spend the day of Thanksgiving expressing gratitude for all that we have and then frequently rush off to buy more stuff. We need to remain focused on being grateful for what we already have.

    If you can, donate time and/or money to causes that are important to you. This can be donating money to a non-profit, volunteering time at a food kitchen or collecting donations, or even helping a neighbor or senior or someone spending the holidays alone.

    It's a time for gatherings and celebrations for many but it can also be a difficult time for some. Keep that in mind as you navigate the month. We often don't know what others may be going through.

    December is also a time for reflecting on the year and hopes and dreams for the year ahead. To help with reflecting, you can work on projects like going through photos or writing in a journal about the past year. You can make photo collages or print out photos for an "old-fashioned" photo album. Make sure to acknowledge your successes this year - no matter how small they may seem.

    In addition to the holidays (Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa to name a few) and upcoming change to a new year, there are many other noteworthy days celebrated in December including World AIDS Day, International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Human Rights Day, and the 1st day of Winter.

    Wishing you all the best that December has to offer!

    “December is the time for remembering the past and reaching toward the future.”

    — Ralph Waldo Emerson