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Keeping the Gift of Giving Alive during the Holidays and Beyond


Dr. Christine Silverstein



Dr. Christine M. Silverstein's innovative Hypno-Coaching programs, ”Winning Ways for Teens,” “Operation Heal,” “Fertility Enhancement Coaching,” & “Winning Ways for Wrestlers,” assist clients to reach their ideal performances, using Mindful Toughness skillsets. She has presented her work on All Business Media TV & Radio interviews. As a gifted storyteller, in her latest book, Wrestling Through Adversity: Empowering Children, Teens, & Young Adults to Win in Life, she discusses the historical antecedents to our national mental health crisis of young people & provides approaches to overcome past traumas and become resilient in face of adversity.

Holiday Stressors

As the holiday season approaches, there's anticipation in the air. Weeks ahead, you can feel the tension already building up in supermarkets, at airports, and with making travel plans to visit family and friends. Halloween decorations sold in stores are supplanted with those for Thanksgiving and then for Christmas, Hanukkah, and  Kwuanzaa. It seems that they are displayed earlier and earlier each year, mostly for commercial purposes and retail sales. With all the hustle and bustle, holidays may lose their intended meanings of enjoyment, of sharing, of love, and of reaching out to those less fortunate.

There are many stressors that we face at crowded airports with expensive flights that are cancelled and lost suticases, and you cannot seem to find your way clear to get to your destination. During holiday travel you may find yourselves on expressways that seem to go nowhere with backup traffic for miles.

We seem to forget that many people find it harder to manage depression and anxiety during the hectic holidays. There are more heart attacks on December 25th than on any other day of the year from too much stress, too much alcohol, and too much rich and salty foods. Since COVID-19, the rate of younger persons having heart attacks climbed significantly. Personally, I know a colleague whose husband, 36, died from a cardiac arrest on Christmas Eve while decorating the tree with his family.

During the holidays we tend to become nostalgic and think about times in the past and the family traditions of setting up the Christmas tree or taking out the Menorah and lighting the candles each night for Hanukkah. We may also miss those family members who have since passed away and may get depressed. I often get misty eyed and sad when unpacking ornaments that remind me of lost loved ones.

In the midst of experiencing high stress and sadness, sometimes I wanted to set aside the entire holiday tradition and forget it all, until I recalled the most memorable Christmases of childhood, where the gift of giving continues to this day, such as in the following narrative.



The Merry Mailman

My father had two jobs to support our family of five children. He worked hard as a letter carrier at our hometown post office, and during the Holiday Season, he used his tips and overtime money to purchase our family gifts.

His postal bag carried on his shoulder was heavy, which weighed him down, and his nose frequently had ice cycles forming on it when it snowed. Unlike Santa Claus, having no reindeer to help him, he walked on foot to deliver the holiday mail and packages in our community, plus he whistled while he worked. Everyone knew him, and he knew everyone on his route.

On Christmas Eve one year, my dad, feeling compassion for those in lower income brackets in our neighborhood, fixed up a used bicycle we had stored in our basement. Unbeknown to me, he and my sister placed the bike and other wrapped gifts on the front porch at the home of a poor family with 13 children--one of whom was my friend--rang the doorbell, and then hid in the nearby bushes to see the reaction they had when opening the door.

Since many of my gifts requested from Santa were given away, my parents hustled to replace them before the stores closed. When I awoke on Christmas morning, fillled with anticipation, I found my gifts in the usual place between the dining room and living room, and soon afterwards realized that Santa delivered the wrong package down our chimney because the gifts I received  were not on my list. At first I was disappointed, but accepted the replacements after hearing of my dad's gesture of love to my friend's family who opened them with delight.


Four Ways the Gift Can Keep on Giving

As I look back to this narrated Christmas story in my past when my father gave away my gifts to others, I now realize that he delivered the spirit of the holiday in his mailbag to me and taught the meaning of it through his actions. Until now, I had not thought about how we, as a working-class family, never saw ourselves as being without, or of being poor because there were always those who had less. As an adult, this meaning of the holidays held by my parents showed me how to think rich, how to increase abundance, and how to accumulate wealth that I can now share with others, so his gift keeps on giving.

As a Peak Performance Coach, I now know that it is not the holiday stressors that make us ill, unhappy, stressed out, feel exhausted, or cause heart attacks. It is how we respond positively to them that can make a huge difference in the following four "caregiving" ways, through:


1) Self-Care

  • Thinking yourself strong
  • Laughing out loud
  • Being your own best friend
  • Letting go and smiling more
  • Finding what gives you true joy


2) Selflessness

  • Telling someone you love them and why
  • Being magnanimous
  • Reaching out on Face Time or Zoom to say hello
  • Being kind to strangers
  • Loving neighbors as you love yourselves


3) Beyond Self

  • Asking a friend how they are doing at a new job
  • Sending a care pacakage and meal to those homebound
  • Putting the infirmed first before your own needs
  • Donating to a place of workship in a low-income area
  • Vounteering at a food bank or homeless shelter


4) Self-Improvement

  • Practing new methods, using Mind Power, to manage stress for the New Year
  • Limiting alcohol and drugs, and by exercising more and eating healthy
  • Having prosperity consciousness
  • Writing down plans of action to achieve goals
  • Using a feedback loop to monitor progress

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