A Privilege to Give

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Be thoughtful. Think about loved ones for whom gifts are important. What do they really need but can't give themselves? It's not the grandeur of a gift that counts but the gesture of truly seeing someone and helping them move toward an important, perhaps forgotten, part of themselves. Did your mother paint when she was younger and give it up when she had children? Perhaps art lessons, or a new set of paints, can help restore a long-submerged creative desire.

Give presence, not presents. Once you've perfected meaningful gift giving, you're ready for the next step: transcending tangible gifts. Give intangible gifts such as time and energy to those you love. It doesn't matter if you give material things or nonmaterial things, as long as you have awakened the spirit of generosity.

Nurture nature. Plant a tree, or a group of trees, to show your generosity for the planet.

Give to those you don't know. Let your generosity extend far beyond your social circle, to people for whom the holidays tend to be difficult, lonely times. Volunteer at a homeless shelter, for instance.