by Gail S. Bernstein, Ph.D.

The season is here once again. No matter what holiday, if any, you celebrate, no matter what you believe, you're being bombarded with exhortations to celebrate, to love, to buy and to give. The airwaves are filled with stories about miracles and family gatherings that may be more fantasy than reality. Here are some suggestions for nonmaterial gifts that capture the spirit of the season.

Give yourself the gift of realistic expectations. So many of us understand others are human and imperfect, but forget the same is true for ourselves. Forgive yourself for being human, and for having limited time, energy, and resources. Remember that gifts do not have to be homemade or extravagant to be loving and important.

Give the gift of time.

Offer to babysit for someone with small children. Go to lunch with a friend you haven't seen in a long time. Plan a special evening with your lover. Take time for yourself.

Give the gift of life.

If you haven't done it already, fill out an organ donor card and carry it in your wallet.

Give the gift of unusual sights and sounds.

The world is filled with them, and many are free or inexpensive. Take someone special on a tour. There are lights and decorations everywhere, free concerts at shopping malls, free days at the zoo.

Give the gift of laughter.

There's plenty of pain and suffering in the world, and laughter helps us cope. Go frolic on a playground, listen to a child tell silly jokes, take someone to a funny movie. Laughter isn't just for kids.

Give the gift of an open mind.

Listen carefully to someone who disagrees with you. Watch a television show you've never seen. Listen to the words of a song you've always ignored.

Give the gift of love.

Tell the important people in your life how much they mean to you. I've never heard anyone express regret for having said "I love you" too often.

With best wishes for the holiday season,

Dr. Gail


Author and psychologist Gail S. Bernstein, Ph.D. has a psychotherapy practice in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Bernstein speaks and writes about gay, lesbian and bisexual people for both general and professional audiences, and is the author of the new audiotape, NOT HETEROSEXUAL: An Educational Program About Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual People.


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