The holidays are a time when lifetime memories are made. What happens in your lives the next two weeks will be etched in your minds forever. Ten, 20 years from now you may tell people around you of some event that happened during the year-end holidays of 2017.

Joyce Maynard tells us, “As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours.” And it is wise to remember what Joe Addison once observed: “Something to do, someone to love, something to hope for — these are the essentials to happiness in this life.”

This can be a very stressful time for many people. Perhaps we need to take the hassles out of this time of year, and enjoy some of the basics that we may have lost along the way. To that end, here is a list of gift suggestions from a 1995 edition of The Lutheran Digest that has been hiding in my file.

Time: In our hectic, daily pace, the phrase, “I don’t have time,” can become a habit. But if we care, we can find time to make one phone call to a friend in need; a half-hour visit to someone who lives alone. People crave personal attention.

Acceptance: Have you ever tried to change someone you love? That usually doesn’t work very well. An easy-going person will not suddenly become a worrier and vice versa. Think about your loved ones and determine to accept some traits, attitudes and imperfections. Loving acceptance takes the pressure off of you, and may trigger a surprising change in the other person.

A good example: We set examples every day of our lives—to our children, to others. Christmas is a good time to make a silent resolve to set a better example than before. Children take us for examples whether we like it or not. What you are speaks…let it speak for your faith.

Listening: The ability to be a good listener is an admirable trait, and one we all benefit from. However, too often we interrupt or act disinterested when others are talking. Listening is an art. Cultivate this rare gift and share it with family.

Seeing the best in people: How often are we critical? How often do we give unwanted advice? How many times do we see the negative rather than the positive? Confidence is a gift worth cultivating and giving all year long.

The gift of fun: Have you known people who were constantly down? It doesn’t matter what happens, they go around casting gloom everywhere. Then there are those who find fun in everything they do. They never see the rain, only the rainbows. Can we give this gift of joy, fun and happiness to others?

Diving up a bad habit: All of us have annoying habits. What a great gift it would be to give up an unhealthy habit! Maybe the habit of overeating, not being content with our lot in life or losing control. Think of how others will rejoice as we live up to our Christian potential and give up the old miserable way.

Letting others give: It is blessed to receive, as well as give. Think of how you like to give. Allow others that privilege too when they want to give to you. Let us receive with appreciation what others have to give. They need the blessedness of giving and we need the grace to receive.

Self-esteem: There is no greater gift one can bestow on children than that of self-esteem. Building confidence is a day-by-day process. Give this priceless gift all year long, not only to family members but also to others. Everyone appreciates it.

Privacy: Sometimes we bombard our family members with questions the second they enter the door. We demand to know everything before they are ready to share. Give the gift of personal privacy to each member of your family.

As the holidays surround you, and you celebrate their wonders, be sure to exchange these priceless gifts with the ones you love and know.


Christmas is always a time of giving. Maimonides, the great Jewish philosopher who lived in the 12th century, was as current then as he would be now when he described the eight levels of charity.

As you read these words, ask yourself how many people measure up to these lofty standards. Going from the lowest level of charity to the highest, here are the eight levels:

1. He who gives willingly.

2. He who gives cheerfully, but not enough.

3. He who gives enough, but not until he is asked.

4. He who gives before being asked, but gives directly to the poor man.

5. The poor man knows from whom he takes, but the giver does not know who is receiving.

6. The giver knows to whom he gives, but the receiver does not know the giver.

7. The giver does not know to whom he gives, nor does the poor man know from whom he receives.

8. The highest form of charity is to strengthen the hand of the poor man by giving him a loan, joining him in partnership, or training him out of his poverty, to help him establish himself.