By Elyse Nissim LCSW-C 

In our consumer-oriented culture, giving often means shopping first. To acknowledge or celebrate an important event: birthday, wedding, graduation, memorials, we mostly buy things for others.  

Over the past few months, like many of you, I found myself with abundant time and scarce mobility. With more time to pause and reflect, I began wrestling with the idea of giving, instead of focusing on the act of shopping (of course, nothing stops us from ordering online, even though it’s one degree removed from handing someone a gift in person). I’ve noticed the most joyous gifts I receive are from children: drawings, creations of found items, photos and videos of everyday activity.   

I believe giving is sharing acts of creativity and kindness, for no special occasion or reason, without adult censorship for quality or importance. Must we wait for “important” life events to gift others?  Must we buy things?  Why not share the moment, being alive today, thinking about someone you care about and cannot visit?  “Too busy, no time” rings false these days.  Many studies in psychology and neurobiology demonstrate the positive effects of giving on the giver’s own nervous system. It creates feelings of satisfaction and pleasure and reduces stress, loneliness, and anxiety.   

Here are a few ideas:  

  • Write a letter, email, instant message (age appropriate for the recipient) that shares a thought or feeling. It could be something observed, a memory, future wish, or fantasy.  Think transient.  Think whimsical.  Forget important.  Forget momentous. Brief is ok.  
  • Send a picture with your smile, or any smiles, your pet, or favorite local wild animal.  Or make a video—take a lesson from TicToc. 
  • Make something personal and simple. Cook, bake, sew, anything you enjoy making and share it. If you are so inclined, paint, draw, sing, fabricate crafts or homebuilt unique items.  
  • Time is perhaps the most precious, irreplaceable, and unique gift. Your choice to share it with someone is the most generous gift. It’s the antidote to the cliché “Time is money”. 

The best thing: there’s no need to worry about size, color and exchange policy! 

Elyse Nissim, LCSW-C, is a JCS Therapist 

JCS provides individuals and families throughout Central Maryland with a broad array of services and resources for emotional and behavioral health, aging and caregiving, parenting, job seeking, financial stability, and living with disabilities. To learn how JCS can help you live your best life, please visit jcsbalt.org or call 410-466-9200.   


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