Searching for Joy in Holiday Giving

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One of my clients, whose immediate family includes 30 people, has described himself as a Grinch when it comes to Christmas gift-giving. “Every year I swear I’m going to shop early, and every year I procrastinate. I never know what to get for people, and it seems pointless to buy some generic stuff they probably won’t even care about. And some of them don’t even acknowledge the gifts I do send. I hate Christmas shopping!”

The word “joy” features prominently in music, greeting cards, and ads around the holiday season. Yet many of our holiday rituals and expectations bring as much stress and worry as they do a sense of celebration. Articles on how to cope with holiday stress are routinely featured alongside those on how to create impressive decorations or prepare gourmet holiday meals. Not to mention, of course, the countless ads for “must-have” gifts.

No wonder my client, like so many others, has struggled to find joy around holiday gift-giving. This year, however, he decided to take a closer look at his expectations and emotions around the season.