Sure, the holiday season is meant to be a time to disconnect from the day-to-day — to be with family and friends, and to focus on the important things in life. But we are not in typical times. So much of the country is desperately concerned about the future and the January inauguration of Donald Trump, the real-estate tycoon and reality star soon to be America's 45th president. Post-election anxiety is real, and the ongoing news coverage of Russian election hacks, faithless electors, and the richest Cabinet in history probably will not stop over the holidays. So how can you adapt your traditions to adapt to this? Consider giving up one present this year and ask for a donation instead.
Gifts are one of the biggest ways that we show our affection for one another at this time of year. And this is not a suggestion to forgo stocking stuffers and gift bags under the tree. Instead it's a way to take this tradition, and build upon it, expanding it in a way that spreads the holiday spirit beyond the limits of your house, family, or — depending on where the donation is made — the country itself. And we're just talking one gift.
So when you write up your wish list for Santa, or text your mom, make sure that a charitable donation is on the list — and make sure to tell your loved ones before they head to the shopping mall this weekend.
This Is Really Good For You
Regardless of the size of the present, do you really need it? What will you get from one more outfit, cellphone case, or a gift card that your cousins in Missouri always send? Thoughtful, personalized gifts, can be extremely meaningful but most of we get is not. How many pairs of tube socks from your grandparents do you really need? Now I'm not saying that you need to go to minimalist extremes, but it's the thought that counts right? They'll still be thinking about you and honoring your request with the donation.
This Is Even Better For The Gifter
Science shows that gift-giving is even more rewarding for the gift-giver than the receiver. A big part of the fun is finding something that is perfect for the recipient. Just because you ask for a donation, doesn't mean you have to take that fun away. Let them know you'd like a donation made to a cause that matters to both you and the giver — and then leave it up to them to choose. That way they still get to think of what will mean the most to you, specifically which cause is something you both share.
And This Is Awesome For The People You're Helping
Now here's the really cool part. Normally a gift exchange makes both you and the person receiving it happy, but with a donation, the happiness can be enjoyed not just by two people, but potentially a huge number. It will, of course, depend on what charity or cause the gift-giver in your life chooses, but assuming it's not an NGO of one, a huge group of people will be included. That could be everyone in the country with a donation to the ACLU, children around the world with a donation to UNICEF, or civilian victims of the fighting in Aleppo with a donation to these charities. That expands the goodwill and love from your gift exchange to a great number of people.
Of course, your holiday wish list is up to you — and only you. No one is twisting your arm, but upon reflection this might be the perfect way to help all involved in the holiday gift rush. Do this if you'll feel fulfilled, loved, and happy by the gesture. It's a great way to embrace the holiday spirit.