I was talking with a friend this morning who said, “I’m already exhausted… and the holiday season just began!”

She went on to say that she barely had time to enjoy Thanksgiving because she spent so much time and energy shopping, decorating, cooking, and cleaning that the actual dinner seemed like a big blur. At one point she stated, “But the good news is, everyone else enjoyed it!”

As I listened, I was flooded with emotions and memories of my holidays past: I was her just a few years ago. I felt her pain and her desire to make everything perfect for everyone else, forgetting about her own wants and needs.

While excited to see the holidays come, I used to be even happier to see them go. Sad, but true.

The Gift of Time

Three years ago, I gave myself a gift that changed my life.

I gave myself permission to let go of having to do it all and to have it all be perfect. I gave myself the freedom to simply enjoy this special season – the lights, the sounds, and the smells.

Most of all, I gave myself the best gift I could ever give – the gift of more time to actually be with the people I love.

Black Friday is now over, but if we listen to the noisy marketing messages, “’Tis the season to buy.” The hunt is on for the “perfect gifts” or the latest new gadgets. The mission is on to get the best holiday bargains for fear of missing out on things we “must have” to create the perfect holiday.

Think About the Numbers

According to the National Retail Federation:

  • 114.6 Million Americans were expected to shop on Black Friday;
  • 174 Million people were expected to shop between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday;
  • $6.2 Billion dollars were spent during that 5-day period;
  • 65% say they will shop “because the deals are just too good to pass up.”

While those statistics are staggering, it is not just the number of people who will shop or the amount of money they will spend, it is the amount of precious time and energy that will NOT be spent with families and loved ones… time we can’t get back.

It is the amount of time and energy that will be wasted while waiting in long lines to pack or checkout. (I would trade long lines for laugh lines any day!)

It is the amount of time and money that is often wasted on things people may not need – or ever want – just adding to more clutter in their homes and in their lives.

What Will You Spend?

Before you decide to indulge in loads of holiday shopping, think about these questions:

  • Who or what is consuming your precious time this holiday season?
  • What is preventing you from slowing down and fully embracing the true meaning of the holidays?
  • What gift can you give yourself this year that will not only change your life, but the lives of those you love the most?

Perhaps the best present of all is you. It could simply be your presence.

“If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that the most important things in life are not things at all. The memories created with those we love, conversations and laughter around the kitchen table, quality time spent with family, friends, and people in need, and a chance to make a difference in the world are the ‘things’ that bring the greatest joy… ”

“Choose to live a rich abundant life with less.”

Rita Wilkins, “The Downsizing Designer”

How will you spend your time and money this holiday season? Will you be waiting in lines or will you be preparing to share your time with the people you love? Do you give time to yourself? Please share your thoughts below.

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