In a season where it is commonplace to feel pressured to buy, buy, buy, it is important to keep things in perspective and remember the true meaning of giving. As Maya Angelou is quoted as saying, "No one has ever become poor from giving." Her meaning here, of course, was not to push your monetary spending to its limits, but to open your eyes and heart to the needs of others. Instead of a physical gift that could possibly even go unused, why not focus on how to give in order to benefit the actual needs of others? The list is endless, but often begins with sharing our time. Could your 8-year old benefit from time with you in the kitchen learning some life skills and sharing memorable time together? Could your sister use a hand organizing her basement or garage? Could a parent, grandparent, aunt, etc. use help with yard work, painting, organizing photos, etc.? Maybe it's providing transportation to a friend or neighbor unable to drive, or providing a meal to someone who just hasn't had the time to cook very healthfully lately.

When you look to the needs of the community and loved ones around you, it is then that the gifts you have to offer can fundamentally affect someone's mental and emotional health for the better. Because one more race car for a 5-year or one more sweater for your mother-in-law will likely not leave a lasting effect. However, your own personal time, skills, love and willingness to share truly can be the ultimate gift.

Blessings to all this during this wondrous time!