Insights: Sharing the Love at Christmas

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Thinking about what I wanted to share with Christmas and other holidays fast approaching, I was struggling to find a topic that would hit home and was a little different.

Author Glennon Doyle Melton brought it home pretty quickly for me: “The only meaningful thing we can offer one another is love. Not advice, not questions about our choices, not suggestions for the future, just love.”

This is a perfect time to really show people how much we love them. It is not the gifts—we can all go out and buy something. And yes, there are always issues with people we care about, but we have a choice to focus on what drives us crazy about them or how much we care about them.

Remember that showing someone you love them is not about doing big things for them (although that is also good), but it is the million little things that you do.

Run an errand for someone when they are tired. Make a handmade card or note to say you care. Give them a hug and listen to them when they are stressed—but listen as though you have nothing else you need to do. Cook them a meal they truly enjoy.  Squeeze their hand, look them in the eyes, and smile (words not needed). Showing someone you care with your time and energy is invaluable.

One of the ways I truly enjoy showing my friends I care is to listen to them when “life happens.” It may sound like a simple thing to do, but really, very few people take the time to actually be present and hear us. Think about how good it feels when someone truly hears us. It builds trust, intimacy, and connection. More valuable than anything you could buy.

My daughter recently told me about a memory her dad shared, about how I had made a boysenberry coconut cake for him and how much it meant to him because these were his two favorite foods. I must have baked that cake nearly 30 years ago, yet he is still talking about it. If I had bought a cake from a local store, I am sure it would not have made the same memory. It was the caring, the thought.

What I appreciate is when my friends help me with errands around my house that I cannot do. In fact, a wonderful gift to create is a coupon book with things you can do for another person. If you make a coupon book, make sure you can truly offer what the coupon is for. If you offer a massage, make sure you give a time on it (such as 10 minutes) and, very important, no complaints when asked.

This time of year I think about the people who do not get seen: the janitor you do not see, the person at your dry cleaners who works in the back, the mail carrier. It is easy to pay attention and bake those cookies for the people you come in contact with, but what about the people you know help you but you may never see. Do something special for them.

No matter if you are the person behind the scenes, or it is your child, parent or partner, we all want to feel cared about. Being validated is a human desire, a human need—not a want, but a need.

Knowing we matter is essential for feeling like we belong, that we are important. Take the time these holidays to ensure all people, close or far away, important or that person behind the scenes, let them feel acknowledged, not just through the holidays but also throughout the year. It feels good to everyone.

Contact Dr. Shelly Zavala at or [email protected]

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