How’s the holiday gift-giving going?

As much fun as it can be, gift decisions can also be stressful. Who should we gift, what would they like, how much to spend; the whole process can feel overwhelming and defeats the purpose of joy and peace.

Presents are symbols of love. We want to show people how much they mean to us. And we want to share with strangers who may need a little help. We want everyone to be happy.

But then January and the credit card bills arrive, and all the happy feelings dissipate as we realize there has to be a better way.

What to do?

A wise friend told me years ago that giving during the holidays makes us feel good but giving all year long makes others feel good.

That was a wake-up call.

It does feel good to help others at this time of year and it is important work, but I became aware of how pride crept in and my list of good deeds became a badge to proudly wear. I thought I was doing my part, but I realized I could do much better.

Giving and sharing must become a year-round state of mind.

Food pantries are stocked now, but people will need assistance in May, too. It wouldn’t tax us too much to include an extra can of soup and box of cereal in our weekly shopping trips to be donated. Clean out the closet each season and take seldom worn clothes to shelters or donation centers.

But it’s more than giving stuff. Just as essential is to change our mindset and give the intangibles that cannot be purchased. Things like time, effort, and thoughtfulness.

We mustn’t be stingy with our kindness. It’s not going to run out. We aren’t carrying around bags of kind acts that will be emptied if we give it away too soon. There’s nothing here to save. Share your talents, your time, your humor.

Everyone can use unconditional love and acceptance every day. It costs nothing to be supportive and nice but will yield more richness than we can see.

People are more alike than we realize. Most of us just want to belong and feel comforted. To trust that we don’t have to do this thing called life alone and lost.

And when we are grieving and missing someone, it can be easier to handle when others are with us in spirit and in person.

I invite you to light a candle this Sunday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m., for one hour to honor and remember the children who left too soon. As I light a candle for our grandson, Hunter, who passed away in 2007 at the age of 5 months, I will also be thinking about all the children and families who walk this path.

Begin a year-long journey of sharing, thoughtfulness and kindness. It is possible to make a difference every day. What seems like a small gesture may mean the world to someone else.

Love will take away the loneliness and fear; it’s the best gift we can give to each other.

KAREN ROTH has been a Write Team member and resides in Ottawa.

For more local news, visit The Times at https://www.mywebtimes.com.

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