There is something wonderfully poetic about the holiday season beginning with Thanksgiving, continuing through Christmas, and coming full circle with the start of a new year.
It starts with each of us considering the many blessings in our lives and giving thanks for what we have. Then in the spirit of giving, we share our abundance with others. And finally we begin anew, resolving to be better people in the year ahead.
Yet somehow in the middle of all this, the spirit of giving has become twisted and contorted so that many believe "shopping" is a synonym for "giving."
First there's Black Friday, the infamous day after Thanksgiving when big box stores promise blockbuster deals. It's gotten so popular that Black Friday actually begins on Thursday – Thanksgiving itself.
That's followed by Small Business Saturday, the day we are told to "shop small" and spend our holiday dollars buying gifts at local small businesses.
Then there's Cyber Monday when online vendors cut their prices in the hopes that you'll spend some money with them as well.
Yet instinctively we all know that the greatest gifts are not things that can be bought in a store.
Now my children will certainly wake up on Christmas morning with presents under the tree. There is something truly magical about watching a child or loved one open a present from you.
But the true gift we share with our children is the time we spend together. It's the kind word. It's the unexpected hug. It's the lessons we share with them on how to be good people.
It's with those lessons in mind that we started a new Christmas tradition in our home a few years ago. We don't buy gifts for the adults in my family. Instead, we make contributions in their honor to charities and causes that make our world a better place.
Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year. Give thanks. Give Back. Resolve to do better.
That's what the holidays are really about.