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This holiday season, it is very easy to get caught up in the materiality of all the shopping centers and online bargains and forget about the point of the holiday: giving.  As a Christmas celebrator, recently I have been struggling with what to give my sister, what to get my patents, younger cousins and family and also what to get my friends.  I am definitively not the most well-endowed with funds this year, but I do want to show the people I love that I care.  So for all of you readers that are struggling along with me, I have thought of one wonderful, priceless and irreplaceable gift to give. Time.

Let me explain, though most likely, giving time is something you are all already doing. Historically and linguistically, time has had a lot said about it. Mostly good things if I recall correctly. For example, time is what you make of it. Time is of the essence. Live in the moment…. Time, it seems, must be worth something. And it is easier to wrap up and deliver than one would think.

For me, I have divided my “time” gifts into two categories. Doing activities with friends and family and sending holiday cards. Cooking or baking with friends is perhaps a year round favorite activity, but especially this time of year, it takes on a special meaning. Nothing I can think of is as warming, inside and out, than baking. I like to think of it as a gift with no obligation of return, because it is already a shared experience and the product is a tasty treat for all, as well as a fun time. Not only that, the time you took out to share with that someone else is, at least for me who tends to run out of time often, extremely indicative of how much you value that person.

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-need I say more?

Some of my favorite recipes are:

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Gingerbread cookies

Lemon squares (read the reviews for tasty tips)

Butternut squash soup

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– thought this image was nifty

Other quite fun activities to share with someone else can be as exciting as a theater show or concert, to ice skating in the park, to fifteen minutes during a lunch break to chat over coffee. Whatever it is, that time is well spent, in all the most important senses of the word.

Additionally, without fail, one of my favorite gifts is a letter I get from one person every year. It isn’t a long note, nor would it necessarily be called poetic. But it is filled with reminders of times shared, inside jokes laughed at again and again, and with thoughtful wishes for the future. So, I have become a reformed non-letter writer this Christmas, in the hopes that a little time to put into words my love and affection will warm someone else for the season. Besides, holiday cards are kinda the most festive ornament of them all.

Now I can only speak from my holiday experiences, but there are a lot more holidays than Christmas going on this time of year.  What is your holiday tradition?  And what are your FAVORITE recipes?

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