For everyone you want to connect with this christmas, tell them thoughtfully and in detail exactly what you appreciate about them.
If you haven't done your christmas shopping yet this probably won't complete your list. If your shopping has been done for months, this is another thing that's easy to add.
Whether or not you can find a way to put this under the tree, it may be the most important gift you give anyone this year.
As we live our lives down in the weeds, dealing with the day to day issues that permeate our lives, we begin to take for granted the other people who make our lives better, complete and more fun.
We complain when people close to us let us down, forget important dates, leave dishes on the counter or whatever else gets on our nerves.
Those sorts of interactions can erode relationships, and if they're not refreshed and renewed by the expression of genuine appreciation they can wash away.
This Christmas, don't let that happen. Instead take five minutes and think about one person who's important to you. What do you appreciate about them? What are the things that you know in your heart to be the foundation of their positive impact on your life. Things that you wouldn't necessarily ever tell them out loud.
Fine. You can take ten minutes to get your thoughts in order. Then tell them. Don't overthink it, that's a delaying tactic. The spirit of the message is at least as important as the specifics.
Depending on the relationship it can be awkward to bring up this sort of thing. These emotional outpourings tend to be outside our comfort zone. Bring it up however you wish. In a conversation, in a card, written on the sky or shouted from the mountaintop. Do whatever feels right for you.
If you're stuck, say these words (read this to them if you have to):
Hey, got a second? [Get an acknowledgement]
I was reading this newspaper column… I don't tell you often enough how much I appreciate you. I particularly appreciate…
…then fill in the things you appreciate.
Think for a second how you'd feel if someone you care about told you spontaneously what they appreciate about you. You can share that feeling with others, today. For free.
That's one step on the way to a truly merry Christmas.