“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?” ~ Bob Hope
I find is so interesting that Black Friday falls on the day after the American Thanksgiving holiday. One day celebrating gratitude followed by the next day celebrating the beginning of the holiday shopping season, where people flock to the malls in the hopes of finding ‘deals’. I thought the name ‘Black Friday’ was chosen because most people experience a ‘dark’ mood after circling in parking lots and waiting in lines, but in fact, the current day meaning came from a negative connotation turned positive in the 1980’s – Why is it Called “Black Friday?”. This day, which has come to signify the start of the holiday shopping season, also signifies impending stress for many of us. How did we get to this place?
The Minimalists offer 40 Reasons to Avoid Shopping on Black Friday boiled down to one – spend time with the people you love that day. As they accurately point out, are the deals really that outstanding on this one day? I wonder if we are tempted to buy things we don’t need because they are on sale? And even though this is an American tradition, no surprise it has certainly caught on in Canada.
We all know the true meaning of Christmas, but it can be so easy for us to be more caught up in finding the ‘perfect’ gift. I am certainly guilty of this notion of fretting over what to buy for who. Admittedly, if I can buy it online I often choose this route to avoid the chaos in stores this time of year. I do have one exception though – when I am buying for other families in need. Sure it is easier to donate money to a charity at Christmas, but I enjoy having a wish list from a family that is looking for some help in making Christmas possible for their children. It occurred to me that this was a way for me and my family to give the best gift we have to offer – our time. Over the years, the time we have spent shopping for someone else, has in turn been a true gift for us.
Giving in general, to help others, not only makes us happier, but is good for our health and well-being. Studies have shown some of these benefits include the following:
- lower blood pressure
- lower stress
- improved mood
- longer life
According to the article 5 Ways Giving Is Good For You, giving can also promote social connection and feelings of gratitude, both of which are known to enhance positive emotions.
For many of us, time is a precious commodity because it never feels as though we have enough of it. The gift of time doesn’t have to be associated with purchasing gifts for someone in need. Volunteering is a wonderful way to gift time and can be done in so many ways through community organizations (i.e. soup kitchen, animal shelter) or on a more individual level (i.e. tutoring, shoveling a walkway).
As the Harvard Health Blog indicates in the article Volunteering May Be Good For Body & Mind, “One key for deriving health benefits from volunteering is to do it for the right reasons,” where the true health benefits from volunteering come “if their intentions were truly altruistic.”
I know for me, time-related gifts are my favourite – a dinner made by my husband, playing a game with my kids, a visit from family, or special treats made by a friend. Such gifts where time is the currency are the best gifts of all.
How does giving your time make you feel?