The Best Gifts for the Holidays

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I am with right with you, when you shake your head at the Black Friday frenzy that includes people lining up for midnight sales even before they’ve finished wiping the turkey gravy from their lips. I recoiled in horror at the folks who brawled at stores to fight over merchandise (one lady pepper-sprayed her way to the front of the line – doesn’t she know that stuff is only supposed to be used on hippies?). And I get the creeps seeing Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving even arrives.

How and when you do your holiday shopping is up to you (although I strongly recommend against the use of chemical agents to gain an edge in a queue.) But right now is the time to start thinking about a very special gift I know many of you out there can bring: music.

The family bonhomie of the season, plus the introspective feelings it brings, can amplify some people’s sense of loneliness or isolation. And it’s possible to be lonely, and feel isolated in a crowd, too. Music will grease the skids of inclusiveness, and this should be

applied liberally at this time of year.Jam sessions are a great way to get together and enjoy the company of family, friends and friends-to-be. It’s not only fun for the musicians, either – conversation flows freer, and is more lively, when there’s picking and singing in a house. (A little eggnog can help this too..) Don’t forget to make the jam inclusive for ALL skill levels, too. Red hot picking is fun, but so is a circle of jammers that has a nice mix of beginners, intermediateand expert musicians. Everybody benefits from this type of interaction, so make everyone feel welcome – even if you have to trot out the Holy Writ of Jam Etiquette from time to time!

Advanced age and infirmity can be VERY isolating – if you have a chance to play some music for folks who are having trouble getting around, or who are wondering how many holiday seasons they have left, then take some time out of your busy shopping to perform for these people. You will see a remarkable and touching transformation as they listen – truly a win-win, because both the performers and listeners will come away from the experience with a glow that is hard to beat.

If there is a benefit music concert in your area, make time to attend, and give as generously as you can. There’s a lot of money flowing around this time of year, so while your wallet is open, make sure you give to help people you don’t know, as well as your inner circle.

To sum up, there are three great gifts you can give: Your time, your talent and your money. Money is always painfully finite, isn’t it? Your talent is not so limited – give it where it will spread some cheer (and it’s not selfish if it cheers YOU up as well). And time is always limited, on so many levels. But we ALL waste time, more than we think – try and reclaim some and apply it in a way that will mean more than money. It could just be in the form of face-to-face interaction with strangers and family and friends. More greet and less Tweet, I say!

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