Need a few gift ideas this year? When we start counting our real blessings, we might find there is little we need and even less that we want. But just in case ...
There are likely more than a few of us who note our own likes and dislikes to pass on to the spouse. Just a little help, of course, to the man who always buys the wrong size (although wives are generally pleased if it's too small rather than too large) and the woman who invariably thinks socks and underwear are tops on his wish list because she's tired of dragging those same old white crews with the stretched-out tops and the holes in the heels out of the dryer.
It's also a good time to be a little selfish and give yourself a gift or two.
-- How about a big package of patience? This is a busy time of year for all of us, and tempers can be as short as the time we think we have to get it all done. Don't blame the cashiers for prices and don't shove to get that last almost-cashmere sweater for $19.99. So what if it is the exact color you've been looking for? It won't seem as sweet a victory if you knock down another shopper to grab it.
-- Relax. Everything that has to be done will get done. The rest of it will fall into place. When gift giving becomes a chore and ceases to be a joy, perhaps your list is too long.
-- A gift of a good disposition might be on your list. Add a little good will toward others to it as well. And while you're feeling all that good will, give yourself the gift of forgiveness of someone who has done you a disservice. It will make your burden lighter.
-- How about not-so-critical vision? We can all use the ability not to see tree needles on the floor without hauling out the vacuum. They'll be there tomorrow. Why worry about dropping needles when you have a cat that likes to drink water from the tree stand and a dog that thinks the ornaments are for playing "fetch"? It could be worse.
A few other gifts don't cost anything but pay off in ways that can't be measured. Let someone in the line of traffic. They may or may not wave their thanks, but you've done your part. Laugh at every opportunity. Wear lots of red. It's not just a holiday color, it's a cheerful one that can brighten even a cold and rainy day.
Finally, give yourself a break from the quest for perfection. There is no such thing as a perfect holiday. But like broken cookies, a little imperfection doesn't make dessert -- or the holidays -- any less sweet.
Bonnie Williams is a syndicated columnists for the Scripps Howard News Service.