In Seven Laws of Spiritual Success, Deepak Chopra says “The universe operates through dynamic exchange…giving and receiving are different aspects of the flow of energy in the universe. And in our willingness to give that which we seek, we keep the abundance of the universe (God) circulating in our lives.”

As we approach the holidays it is important to ask ourselves, “What do I want to manifest in my life on a personal level, for my family and friends and for the world I live in?”  The holidays can be a time of great stress as well as great joy. If we can identify how we truly want to celebrate the holidays, then joy is much more likely. It is not always necessary to follow the old traditions that have been in place. We can ask ourselves, “Do these traditions support who I am now? Do these traditions feed me in a way that supports my soul and encourages joy in my life?”

Whether we are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, we can ask,  “How can I celebrate with friends and family in a way that will bring joy to all of us?”

Giving can manifest in many different ways. Of course, material gifts are wonderful to give, but we can also give gifts of time, listening, caring, and helping with the needs of friends, family and neighbors.

Before I give a gift, I like to ask myself, “What does this person really need, rather than want?” Often I find that the best gift may not be a material one, but rather a gift of service.

Before we buy a gift, we can really take time to be quiet and present to the person for whom we are about to purchase a gift, letting ourselves imagine that individual, and then allowing the perfect way to give present itself to us. What does she/he need?   More of my time?  For me to be a better listener?  To enjoy a wonderfully cooked meal that I’ve prepared especially for her?  A chore that is difficult to perform? We can see that giving from the heart, fully present to the person, may bring us closer to one another.

The traditional holidays were about celebrating miracles—a small amount of oil that lasted for eight days; a savior to show the Christian people the way to be; and seven guiding principles for African-Americans. These gifts are divine gifts that teach us how to be in relationship with ourselves, each other and divinity/God. The gifts that mean the most to us are the gifts that speak expressly to our hearts.  Before giving, be with this question:  Will this gift support this person on his/her journey to joy and connection to all that is?

The most important thing to remember during the holiday season is to be present to one another. To set aside differences and yet to respect one another’s differences is perhaps the greatest gift on all.

The holidays are also about receiving. Receiving is best done with an open heart, no expectations, and a knowing that the person giving the gift wants to please you (even if they get it “wrong”). Gifts come in all forms, and we can be open to the small things that life offers–holiday smells, the innocence of children, the beauty of fresh fallen snow and the sounds of music in the air. It is also a great time to get out and experience some of the wonderful art, music, theater and adventures that Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky have to offer, gifts can be found in the experience. As we receive these gifts of the season, we can be open to the surprise, trying not to “peek,” and just being present to the moment.

Peace on Earth, Goodwill to all. Blessings on your holidays!