December 27, 2016 Blog No Comments

true-giftsIt can feel like running a gauntlet to get through the obligations of the holidays. It requires a determined decision to avoid the rampant commercialism and constant commotion to create something more meaningful. Each year we realigned our priorities to make it more poignant. Now that we are in the quiet days between Christmas and New Year’s, I’m enjoying reflecting on what really counts.

No matter what your belief, this season can be a trigger for people. The fantasies of what it should be, the memories of when it wasn’t, the wishes and hopes that get attached to your expectations and the traditions of giving and receiving all belie its true purpose. There can be so much tangled emotion and conflict involved, the point that we are celebrating the gifts that Jesus brought to the world, the Hanukah lights, or Kwanza often gets lost.

What’s been coming to me, in fact, is more in the spirit of the season. It’s been the heart felt outward expressions of charity and love that has captured my attention and given me hope. Here are a few things I’ve noticed.


From shop keepers to strangers, friends and family members, I have noticed an outpouring of kindness. There have been donations made, offers to help, errands taken care of, things done for others, greetings exchanged, all simple niceties that go beyond the usual. It’s wonderful.

The way these simple gestures make your heart swell tells of their significance.

Expressions Of Love

From direct comments to thoughtful expressions written on cards, to loving gifts, there has been an outpouring of love expressed. This season invites people to say how important you are to them, in ways that are not often expressed.

Hearing how you are loved is, in many cases, the only gift we really want and need.


A spirit of more acceptance takes many forms. It includes making room for more people at the table, being kind and giving to those you don’t know well, being gracious to difficult people or those you don’t agree with, knowing when to be quiet to keep the peace. Whenever lots of family and friends gather, interaction can become complicated. Acceptance smooths out all potential issues so things simply flow.

When acceptance and peace prevails, we can relax.

Making New Friends

As families gather and friends come to town, newcomers are often brought into our lives. The new girlfriend or boyfriend, the unmet family member all bring new opportunity. What a lovely gift to expand our network to include them.

Being stimulated and graced by other perspectives increases our web of connections to one another.

Sharing Food

We have been cooking and cooking for days on end. What joy it is to do this for those you love. There is something very special about cooking, sharing a meal and cleaning up afterwards. All these simple rituals bind us together, creating more intimacy.

Nothing says love like sharing a meal.


The sweetest moments are the surprises. Those sudden unexpected loving comments, acts of kindness, unknown gifts that touch your heart are the hallmark of this season. The expansion that comes from these expressions of love can make your feel like your chest will burst.

Being on either end of a surprise is a gift of love.

I’m sure you can add to this list. It makes me happy to know that this is the real spirit of the season. It’s so simple and worth whatever work it takes to make it happen. I hope you have had this experience in some form as well.

Is there anything about this topic that triggers some reactions you’d like to explore? My Transformation Life Coaching and Counseling may help. The focus of my work is on helping people create lives that better match who they are so life can be more joyful. See my website, for more information and use the Free Consultation button to reach me. It’d be wonderful to hear from you.

Written by Connie Milligan, LCSW
If there is anything I’ve expressed that speaks to you, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at my email, connie [at] conniemilligan [dot] com