Giving And Gratitude Are Hallmarks of Season

Christmas is one of the most important celebrations for Christians around the world, but it also can be one of the most stressful. Between the crowded shopping malls and people’s expectations, we all run the risk of feeling let down, which can lead to tension and bad behavior.

Avoid letting this happen by taking breaks to think about what the holiday is truly about. Take a few minutes and enjoy some quiet moments with your children to help prevent your tension from affecting them.

Most people enjoy receiving Christmas cards. You don’t have to be wordy, but a nice thought above your signature can make someone’s day. While it’s OK to have a holiday newsletter enclosed, keep it brief and positive. For years my husband and I have received a five-page Christmas letter telling every detail of the family’s year. We have no clue who this person is but we sure know a lot about the family.

Never expect a gift from anyone, but be grateful for anything someone gives you. Keep in mind that the person took time to think about you and select something he or she thought you would like. One year I asked for a sterling silver tea service. When I opened the big box Christmas morning what did I find? An answering service. Needless to say, I was disappointed but smiled and said thank you. Someone didn’t hear me correctly, but I finally did get my tea service. There is nothing that will offend someone so quickly than someone not being thankful for what they have received.

If someone gives you something you can’t use or don’t care for, it’s OK to regift it later, as long as you don’t give it back to the original person. To prevent this from happening, attach a note with the original giver’s name.

If you have been invited to a holiday party make certain you RSVP and do it on time. Take a small token of appreciation to the host or hostess and don’t forget the handwritten thank-you note within a week of the event.

Display kindness while shopping. For some reason, manners and etiquette seem to be thrown out of the window during shopping excursions. It is not that hard to be considerate of others. Always use the golden rule and do unto others as you would have them do to you.

Have fun at the office party, but don’t forget where you are. It is never OK to drink too much, tell off-color jokes or dress as you would to go clubbing. Laugh, make small talk and enjoy getting to know your co-workers on a lighter level, knowing that you’ll be back to work in a few hours or days.

Embrace the festive spirit by showing generosity toward others in any way you can. It could be as simple as dropping a few coins into a donation box or contributing to a food drive. On a more elaborate scale, find a family (through your church or other organization) that is struggling and present them with food, toys or whatever else they might need during the Christmas season. Whatever path you choose, involve your children in as many ways as possible. It will go a long way in teaching them what is truly important at this time of year.

The etiquette for this holiday is really very simple. It is all about thinking of the needs of others and being grateful for what you receive. These simple thoughts and feelings will bring meaning to your holidays.

May Christmas be a time that your heart is full of love and thoughts toward others.

Judi Hendrickson of Wheeling is the co-author with Dr. Jeanne Finstein of “Walking Pleasant Valley.” She teaches etiquette and presents programs on Tea Time Traditions, the History and Etiquette of Tea and Wedding Traditions.