As everyone goes into the last minute panic for buying holiday gifts, we turned to Local Hopatcong Author Candice Smith for advice. The following is from her book “Christmas Candi: A Guide to Year-round Holiday Bliss.”
Gifting can be one of the most stressful parts of the Holiday/Gift-giving Season. For many it is a financial struggle, for others it's a matter of shopping for people who seemingly have “everything”, and for still others it’s about wanting to have a more meaningful part of yourself to offer than something off the shelf of the local discount store.
Gifting is as old as Christmas itself. The Three Wise Men offered gifts to the Baby Jesus and since then people have given gifts as tokens of their love and affection.
Once Saint Nicholas got into the act and gifted gold coins to a man whose three daughters the father was not able to provide a proper dowry, gifting became synonymous with Christmas for good.
So how do you gift on a budget? Creatively. Find your talent and capitalize it. Do you draw? Cook? Bake? Write? Work on cars? Tech savvy? Any of these skills/talents can parlay into a gift. Artist, give a piece of artwork. Cook, invite your person to dinner or bring a meal. Baker, create a dessert of the month subscription for 3, 6 or 12 months! Mechanically inclined, offer an oil job or two to fix brakes, or whatever is in your “wheelhouse”. Tech savvy people can show a person how to use their new computer/tablet/phone, how to navigate social media sites, or write a document in Word or Google Docs. The sky’s the limit. Whatever YOU are good at may be the perfect way to treat the person or people on your gift list.
What do you give your children who are drowning in toys? Children do need toys to learn, develop, and socialize, but too many is, well, too many! In addition to one or two things your children (grandchildren, nieces/nephews) really want, sub in a few nostalgic toys. Unlike techy items, toys of old are usually very interactive, active and fun. Think jump ropes, jacks, Frisbees, Hula Hoops, and a ball and glove. These are wonderful, relatively inexpensive and positive toys to treat the children in your life. To enhance the gift, tell the child you’ll teach them how to play/use the item. What children want more than any material thing is time and attention with YOU.
In the event someone lost a loved one recently (or ever) and Christmas has lost its luster and leaves one feeling blue, depressed, or hopeless, there are things to try. It may be difficult to take that first step but making a call to a volunteer organization may help a ton. It will definitely help the organization you volunteer for but may also help YOU. By removing yourself from routine you change the holiday for yourself. And, by knowing you are helping those less fortunate than you, you start to become an active part of your community and the fellowship of man. If you simply cannot get out of bed lest make a phone call to commit to help, it may be time to see a professional about your broken heart. There is help, you just need to ask.
What if I’m the kind of person who tries to make EVERYONE’s Christmas extra special and I’m left feeling misunderstood, left out, exhausted, and frustrated? The holidays ARE exhausting, and many have an unreasonable expectation of achieving “The Perfect Christmas”. Let’s get this straight once and for all, there is NO SUCH THING as the elusive Perfect Christmas. There is just Christmas. Do what makes you happy, try to understand that other people’s happiness is NOT your responsibility, and lighten up on yourself. If you need help with shopping, cooking, or ‘creating Christmas’, ask. If no one is willing to assist you, simply cut back on what you are unable to do. And, remember, give yourself a break. Day not going your way, take a “time-out”, refocus on what you are doing really well (yes, you are doing an awesome job), and breathe. Christmas 2019 is finite and will be here, and over, before you know it.
The last piece of advice is to just keep doing what you’re doing. Don’t worry what other families buy, eat, or celebrate. This is YOUR holiday season. It’s unique to you and yours so remember, you can’t mess it up!
For more help, recipes, menus, gift ideas, stories, information, and Holiday hints, please pick up a copy of Christmas Candi: A Guide to Year-round Holiday Bliss on Amazon.
Candice Smith is a resident of Hopatcong, a Board of Education trustee, a former teacher and current paraprofessional at Stanhope Valley Road School, and a book author. She’s written Christmas Candi: A Guide to Year-round Holiday Bliss and The Man Behind the Beard, both available on Amazon. Her third book will publish in February 2020 and is called Drafting the Culinary Circuits, a cookbook set to the backdrop of the stock car racing circuits in America.
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