A Sincere Gift of Happiness at Christmastime

The holidays are an exciting, yet hectic and expensive, time of year. Expenditures include gifts, cards, parties, meals, travel, décor, and so much more.

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I’m honored to have my friend Alicia write a guest post for IH. I Hope you enjoy her beautiful work. Give her lots of comments and shares to let her know how much!

It’s expected that the average person will spend a total of $906 just on Christmas gifts this year. Do the receivers appreciate all these gifts? Do you remember who gave you what last year? Chances are you remember just a few that held a personal meaning.

The Gift of Words

The cost of a gift doesn’t necessarily represent the amount of love and care you have for someone. You can simplify Christmas gift giving. My suggestion for this year is to consider giving the gift of words, of gratitude, in the form of a letter. In addition to being a gift of words, a letter is a gift of time because it is written with undivided attention for a particular person.

The custom of letter-writing has dwindled tremendously over the years with the rise of technology and the busyness of our lives. Yes, a letter takes longer than a text or email, but the outcome is worth the effort.

“Give the gift of words, of gratitude, in the form of a letter.”

– Alicia T. Rust

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Positive Psychology

Positive psychology is the study of happiness. This field of study researches how people can become happier and more fulfilled. According to Dr. Christopher Peterson, a staple of positive psychology is the gratitude letter, an expression of thanks to someone who was particularly kind or is important to you. Forget the extra cost for greeting cards or stationery! Many of my old letters are on ruled notebook paper.

Over the years, I’ve kept nearly every letter I’ve received. Checking the mailbox was a highlight of my days. The anticipation of holding a letter from a friend or family member who wrote just for me…excited me! I felt loved and appreciated. I was important enough for them to pause during their day to write and share with me.

“A letter is a gift of time because it is written with undivided attention for a particular person.”

– Alicia T. Rust

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The Christmas Card Tradition

Christmas cards, not Christmas letters, have been a longstanding tradition. In London 1843, the first commercial Christmas cards featured a family drinking wine and were commissioned by Sir Henry Cole.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1923.

First Christmas Card commissioned by Sir Henry Cole found here.

Hallmark’s first Christmas card was created in 1915. In 1953, President Eisenhower issued the first official White House Christmas card. Yet, the first Christmas postage stamp to adorn these cards wasn’t issued until 1962.

The senders, though, rarely personalize Christmas cards. They are purchased, signed, stamped, and mailed. Sometimes, the rarely-done-right family newsletter is included.  Oftentimes, these are over-share and sent to everyone and their dog. More importantly, these are all about themselves. Letters, on the other hand, are about the receiver.

Call to Action:

Spread happiness this Christmas by gifting hand-written, personalized letters. Your words and time will be cherished for years to come. They won’t be returned to the store, re-gifted, donated or forgotten.


I write to shine light on the daily struggles of mental illness…how we are affected, how others view mental illness, how we cope (or don’t cope), and how others can help. I invite you to read my first post and my personal history.

Let this be an open invitation for all of us to take a few minutes each week to touch base.  Let us discuss, lift each other up, and spread hope. Because, life…is…so…daily!

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3 thoughts on “A Sincere Gift of Happiness at Christmastime”

  1. Thanks Alicia!
    I like the idea of end of season letters, but time is the problem, especially with a strong focus now on my writing online.
    Our end of the year celebration focuses more on time together and practical gifts that are needed or likely to be specially appealing (some are second-hand). It was different a few years back, but our little ones have all grown into teenagers and young adults!

  2. Alicia,

    This takes me back – way back. I write lots of letters back in the days before email and instant messaging. It’s definitely a practice that has special and lasting meaning. To have something that someone took the time to write by hand especially for you is a treasure indeed.

    Thanks so much for this, my friend!

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