How is it that Christmas sneaks up on us every year?  It seems to go from an active summer to a busy fall and then BAM! Christmas is here.  I’m a fan of Christmas, but it does seem hectic as we are trying to figure out what presents to buy that our loved ones will enjoy and appreciate.  It can often feel extremely stressful rather than joyful.

So here is my take on how to keep your priorities straight during the holiday season, because “stuff” doesn’t equal happiness.  Before you put this article down, hear me out.  I have six kids from the ages of 5 – 14 and they like their “stuff”.  Many arguments frequently end in tears over “stuff”.   Around our house it’s not uncommon to hear an ear-piercing scream from the living room that morphs into a somewhat recognizable “MAMA”! The clamor, commotion, and accusations that ensue shortly thereafter are enough to keep the family judge (me) busy full time.  The naughty and nice list is a real thing and it does come in handy at times.

I have three rules for you to consider that just might keep the Grinch away from your house this year:

  1. Don’t spend beyond your means.
  2. Don’t give with selfish motives.
  3. Don’t be afraid to live generously.

I suppose one reason why this season can be stressful is that it tends to hit the bank account pretty hard.  A good gift, however, doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.  I guarantee you that spending beyond your means is not a good gift.  It ends in misery and drives a wedge in relationships.  One of the leading causes of divorce is money fights.  “Stuff” can damage relationships when it violates rule #1.

“Stuff” has no morals whatsoever.  It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s not generous, it’s not selfish, it just is.  Giving gifts can be a lot of fun; receiving a gift can also be very meaningful.  The true secret is understanding the heart behind why the gift was given.  Believe it or not, the “thing” is not the most important part of the gift.

Think about it.  Dad, if you decide to buy your son that hunting rifle he has been eyeing, of course he is going to be thrilled.  But what is actually going on here?  The real treasure is that Dad thinks junior is responsible enough to be safe with a gun and this affirmation is significant to this young man.  It also represents future trips to the woods and quality time together.  It’s a memory maker that will result in stories told for years to come.  A gift given with hopes of an equal return will disappoint every time.  A gift given with no thought of return has the power to win over the hardest of hearts.

Lastly, don’t hold on to your possessions too tightly.  Life is short, and nobody takes any “stuff” with them when they die.  Your wealth is only good on this side of eternity.  The universal sign of hate is a closed fist, the universal sign of love is an open hand.  Be a generous person.  Live a life full of love and kindness.  It makes for a Happy Healthy Heart.

And if you are in a position where you have some extra resources this season, please remember the Crook County Parks and Recreation Foundation.  CCPRF is committed to making a lasting impact in Crook County and we need generous folks like to you come alongside of us.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Duane Garner

Executive Director

Crook County Parks and Recreation District