Another holiday gift-giving time has passed. In progressing on a path of becoming authentic, holidays can be challenging. I hate feeling the pressure to get something—anything—for the sake of protocol and expectations. We are like lemmings rushing off the cliff to finish our MUST DO list.

The receiving end can also create problems. Do I say “This is a stupid present,” or “Yuck, I hate this.” Do I express my disappointment? Do I mind my manners and put it in my good will bag? It is much easier if it clearly does not fit and can be exchanged. Some gift-givers are so identified with their gift that they interpret any rejection as a personal affront. You know, love me, love what I give to you like it or not! Wouldn’t it be fun if we could say—this is a round robin gift—keep it if you like it, otherwise pass it on! Just include all the previous cards! Keep it going like those emails that warn us not to stop the chain. I definitely think that would be more authentic, and more fun!

A Star friend called me after the holidays. The highlight was a family gathering where they each bring a gift, you pick a number and choose something which can be later taken away, and if that happens, you choose another. A 6 year-old was focused on a gift he just knew was a special kid’s toy. Unfortunately he had 13 as a number. So, glued to his pick, he waited his turn. When it came he dashed to the tree, got his prize and tore open the package. It was a set of bath towels! His very authentic response sent the group into peals of laughter. Lucky for him his 13 year-old brother was next. He chose the towels and his kid brother had another opportunity to chose a gift which made him happy. What 6 year-old would want a set of towels for Christmas? On the other hand, how many 13 year-old big brothers would spontaneously take the towels? What a gift that was!

I actually love giving presents. I like to do it anytime of the year when I see something that reminds me of someone. It feels more genuine and more from my heart than a calendar time schedule. Many celebrations have become obligatory performances. I admit I still usually perform appropriately at the appropriate times. Conditional behavior dies slowly. I’d like to take the guilt out of the holidays.