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When I younger, I couldn’t wait for Christmas. It was all about the presents! I’d spend days and weeks anticipating and trying to guess what my parents would get me this year. I’d make wish lists and circle things in toy catalogs.
It was all about receiving material things.
As I grew older, that changed a bit.
I still appreciate a thoughtful gift, but most the fun of Christmas for me now is choosing and giving gifts to the people I love.
I find joy in the process of finding just the right thing for each person, wrapping it in seasonal paper and bows, and then seeing the eyes of the recipient light up when they open their present.
And now, with all of our children in college or building their own families, Christmas is a crazy time with the house filled with grown kids. For a period of a week or two, I’m a full-time mom again, cooking huge meals, cycling laundry for the kids who are sleeping in, ignoring the messes around my usually tidy house. It’s crazy, it’s messy, it’s hilarious and it’s the best!
There’s an important lesson to be learned here and that is that giving makes us happier.
It isn’t just about physical gifts. Anytime we can give something, be it our time, a kind word, sound advice, or a hug, it makes us feel good to give back.
Giving increases our own happiness.
Focusing on giving back lets us lead happier and more fulfilled lives.
Think about some of the things you could do to start giving back.
Volunteering is a great place to start and there are so many opportunities to do that.
You can help out at your local school or at your church.
Homeless shelters and soup kitchens are always grateful for an extra pair of hands.
If you’re good with animals, help your local humane society to walk dogs and socialize kittens.
Reading to patients at the hospital or people in a senior living facility is another wonderful way to give of your time.
If you’re not able to get out of the house much to volunteer, there are still plenty of opportunities.
If you’re crafty, knit some preemie caps for your local hospital or sew up some pet blankets for a local no-kill shelter.
Help organize online events, or offer to virtually tutor kids who need homework help.
Start volunteering and giving back and notice how good it makes you feel.
It instills a sense of pride and purpose in you and that in turn will help increase your overall happiness. Giving back to your community and family is a wonderful feeling and it’s a gift to you as well.
Empty nesters are nurturers without an outlet. Our children want, and deserve, to have independent experiences and lives. But our gifts can find grateful recipients and you will earn a sense of purpose and satisfaction in the act of giving back.