Today is Giving Tuesday. It is a day to help us remember that many of us are very fortunate and that there are other people who are not as fortunate as we are. This day also points out how many people assume that in order to enjoy the Holidays that you must go into debt. However, it is not necessary to go into debt if you want to enjoy the Holidays. How much money you spend does not equal how much you care about someone. In my opinion, the Holidays are about spending time with people in your life that you care about and are important to your life. It is a time to acknowledge these people and to thank them for being in your life.

Therefore, one thing you can do is to take advantage of the Holiday activities happening in your cities. Most of these activities are free and offer a great opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends. Most cities websites post the Holiday activities planed for that city. You can also check your local patch.com for Holiday activities occurring in your area.

Another place to check is your church if you belong to one. Many churches offer free Holiday activities to their members and to those who do not belong to their church. For example, during Hanukkah in Broadway Plaza in downtown Walnut Creek, each night they have singing, games for the children and food. This is all free and can be a very festive and fun time even if you are not Jewish.

Another thing to do is not place so much emphasis on gifts. Maybe set a limit on what people can spend or draw names out of a hat and you only buy for one person. You can also make gifts or give someone a card telling them what they mean to you and how they add to your life. This does not cost a great deal of money.

Finally, another thing you can do is to volunteer at the food bank or St. Anthony’s kitchen. This cost nothing and you can give back to your community. This is what the Holidays are about and can be a very positive experience for you and your family. It can be a very special way to spend the Holidays.

Gratitude is a very important lesson to teach children. By not emphasizing gifts you can teach them to be grateful for what and who they have in lives. There are many children in the United States who are homeless or do not have enough to eat. In our family we take each child to a store so they can pick out a gift for a child who will not be receiving gifts this Holiday Season. This helps to educate them how fortunate they are and to have empathy and compassion for others. This is the spirit of the Holidays. Hopefully they remember this lesson all year and treat other’s in need with empathy and compassion.

This Holiday season is one where we really do need to have empathy and compassion for others. With the fires in California and hurricanes in other parts of the country, many people have lost everything. They have lost their homes, all their possessions, possibly their jobs and some of their family members may have been killed. These people need our support. They do not need pity, but they do need empathy and compassion from other people to help them through this difficult time. Again this is the meaning of the Holidays, helping our neighbors and those in need and feeling grateful for what and who we have in our lives.

These are just a few suggestions for how you can celebrate the Holidays without going into debt. These are also some ways of celebrating the Holidays in a more meaningful manner than spending a great deal of money and creating a great of stress for yourself and your family.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience treating children and teenagers. For more information regarding Dr. Rubino’s work or his private practice visit his website at http://www.RubinoCounseling.com.

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