Monthly Archives: December 2006

Family Gift Giving For the Holidays

Well, it is that time of year again! Many of you around the world are beginning to think about holiday gift-giving. I believe that some issues in our lives come up over and over and that helpful reminders are timeless.

The holidays can be a confusing time for those who are "just" dating. There are so many considerations and questions that arise.


  • Should I buy him a gift?
  • Should I simply send her a card?
  • Am I cheap or selfish if I don’t want to buy a gift at this point in our relationship?
  • How will I look to him if I don’t?
  • Am I creating some kind of pressure for her if I do?
  • If I do, how much money should I spend?
  • How personal a gift should I/can I buy?
  • Is it okay to buy a gift that is simply a token of my enjoying his or her company?

Celebrations with Family and Friends:

  • Should I invite him to my family’s home to light Hanukah candles?
  • Should I invite her to my family’s for tree trimming/Midnight Mass/Christmas Eve/day/dinner?
  • Should I include him in the traditional gift exchange? Is it okay to ask him to pay for a gift?
  • Should I invite her to accompany me to my office party or to the homes of friends and family for holiday parties?
  • What message will it send if I do or if I don’t?
  • Is it rude to not include him or her?

Then there are even more quandaries and sticky situations you could find yourself in if you and your new Honey are of different faiths, or spiritual inclinations. And what if she has children or elderly parents living with her?

Happily for you, there is a perfect solution!

  • Close your eyes
  • Take a deep breath
  • Go inside and ask yourself what you want to do

That’s all there is to it! What do you want to do? What will feel the most comfortable to you?

Here’s a tip: Would you be buying a gift at this particular point in time if it were not Christmas or Hanukah? Would you be inviting this man or woman to your family celebrations, office parties, or parties at the homes of friends if it were not Christmas or Hanukah?

If your answer is “no” then please don’t do it! If you aren’t sure, please don’t do it!

Don’t artificially accelerate the momentum of your relationship to accommodate the season of the year. Protect and preserve the nature and structure of your relationship at all costs. It’s worth it!

The hard part is finding the words to tell someone else what you want to do or don’t want to do. Here are two sample mini conversations to handle gift-giving and invitations to holiday celebrations:

Gift Giving/Receiving

…I am enjoying dating you and getting to know you. I want you to know that I feel awkward about the whole gift-giving dilemma. While I am a generous person and I like giving and receiving gifts, I am not comfortable giving you a gift or receiving a gift from you at this point in our relationship.

I would like to buy you something special when it is the right time for me not because we find ourselves dating during the holidays. What are your thoughts and feelings about this?

Inviting Him/Her to Holiday Celebrations

…I am enjoying dating you and getting to know you. I want you to know that I feel awkward about being invited to holiday/family celebrations and parties and including you or not including you. It feels a little soon to be including you in family traditions and I am worried that I will hurt your feelings if I don’t invite you.

I want to invite you and include you when it feels right inside for me to do that, not because all these opportunities are coming up because it is Christmas/Hanukah time and because I feel worried about your reaction. This whole conversation is very difficult for me to have right now. What are your thoughts and feelings about any of this?

Your job is still your job…to identify what you need or want, figure out what the words are so you say exactly what you mean and find the courage inside to tell your truth to the best of your ability at any given moment to the people in your life.

If you have a special circumstance you would like some feedback about, please email me and I’ll be happy to work this out with you.

I extend my warmest wishes to you and yours for a healthy, safe and joyful holiday season. 2006 was an amazing year. Together we are going to make 2007 the year that we create our best life and love life for the rest of our life!

Thank you for being you and for being here with me!

Take very good care and see you next year, everybody!

Until next time remember…

Only YOU can make it Happen!

Don’t Try This At Home

We live in the era of dating web sites; lunch dates set up by matchmaking companies who charge lots of money; singles bars where the patrons resemble sharks during a feeding frenzy; and speed dating events during which you are supposed to meet eight members of the opposite sex, have eight, three-minute meaningful conversations and decide if you are interested in going on a date with any or all of them.

Dating and courting are lost arts and, apparently so are both telling someone in person that you are not interested in going out with them and writing your own love letters from your heart!

For example, the Rejection Line, is a telephone phone number (provided by that members give out when they don’t want to give out their real telephone number.

Callers hear a humorous recording and are not-so-subtly informed that the person who gave them the number is not interested in going out with them.

For those who prefer to give an innocent optimistic pursuer an email address that will respond to their first brave foray into getting to know them better, there are choices, too:

The Rejection Hotline folks host (that is rejection spelled backwards). Rejection Business Cards are available with your hometown Rejection Hotline telephone number and a email address.

The screen loads and a message appears that in essence says…"We’re sorry, but Noitcejer is not a real company. You probably got this web address off a phony business card provided by The Rejection Hotline… because the person who gave you this business card did not want you to have any of their real contact information…"

Paper offers the same concept. If someone asks one of their members for his or her email address so they can contact him/her for a date, it is now possible to give them (or, to be less suspicious).

When they email the person, they will automatically get a response message much like the ones above.

Oh dear! While on the one hand I can have a sense of humor about things, on the other hand, I am concerned, to say the least, that the sheer numbers of people who are paying good money for these services are not joking around.

Telling our most personal truth and coming from our deepest place of personal honesty and integrity can be scary, intimidating and threatening.

We risk exposure, embarrassment, humiliation, anxiety and, yes, maybe sometimes rejection.

There is no substitute for connecting, even for just a moment, with the humanity of another and speaking from our heart. Maybe the hordes of people we are trying to meet and manage is the problem.

It has never been easy to tell someone that you are not interested in seeing him again or going out with her in the first place.

But life isn’t supposed to be easy. At the end of the day we have to live our best life through our values.

It certainly doesn’t match any of my values to give out phony telephone numbers and email addresses to innocent strangers whose only sin was to have an interest in getting to know me better.

And it certainly doesn’t match for me to send the man I love most in the world a fill-in-the-blank love letter.

How about for you?

Until next time remember…

Only YOU can make it Happen!

Get a Life

Recently, I received a copy of the following speech from a very dear friend. I am always grateful to be reminded of what is truly important. I hope this is a welcome reminder for you too. Have a good month!

[The following is a speech made by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anna Quindlen]

I’m a novelist. My work is human nature. Real life is all I know. Don’t ever confuse the two, your life and your work.

You will walk out of here this afternoon with only one thing that no one else has. There will be hundreds of people out there with your same degree… there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living. But you will be the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on a bus, or in a car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul.

People don’t talk about the soul very much anymore. It’s so much easier to write a resume than to craft a spirit. But a resume is a cold comfort on a winter night, or when you’re sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you’ve gotten back the test results and they’re not so good.

Here is my resume: I am a good mother to three children. I have tried never to let my profession stand in the way of being a good parent. I no longer consider myself the center of the universe. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh.

I am a good friend to my husband. I have tried to make marriage vows mean what they say. I am a good friend to my friends, and they to me. Without them, there would be nothing to say to you today, because I would be a cardboard cutout. But I call them on the phone, and I meet them for lunch. I would be rotten, or at best mediocre at my job, if those other things were not true. You cannot be really first rate at your work if your work is all you are.

So here’s what I wanted to tell you today: Get a life. A real life, not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger paycheck, the larger house. Do you think you’d care so very much about those things if you blew an aneurysm one afternoon, or found a lump in your breast?

Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze over Seaside Heights, a life in which you stop and watch how a red tailed hawk circles over the water or the way a baby scowls with concentration when she tries to pick up a sweet with her thumb and first finger.

Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work. Pick up the phone. Send an e-mail. Write a letter.

Get a life in which you are generous. And realize that life is the best thing ever, and that you have no business taking it for granted. Care so deeply about its goodness that you want to spread it around. Take money you would have spent on beers and give it to charity. Work in a soup kitchen. Be a big brother or sister.

All of you want to do well. But if you do not do good too, then doing well will never be enough. It is so easy to waste our lives, our days, our hours, our minutes. It is so easy to take for granted the color of our kids’ eyes, the way the melody in a symphony rises and falls and disappears and rises again. It is so easy to exist instead of to live.

I learned to live many years ago. I learned to love the journey, not the destination. I learned that it is not a dress rehearsal, and that today is the only guarantee you get.

I learned to look at all the good in the world and try to give some of it back because I believed in it, completely and utterly. And I tried to do that, in part, by telling others what I had learned. By telling them this: Consider the lilies of the field. Look at the fuzz on a baby’s ear. Read in the back yard with the sun on your face. Learn to be happy. And think of life as a terminal illness, because if you do, you will live it with joy and passion as it ought to be lived.

‘Rest not, life is sweeping by! Go and dare before you die! Something mighty and sublime leave behind to conquer time.’

Until next time remember…

Only YOU can make it Happen!

Dr Jackie Black Newsletter

Hello. I am Dr. Jackie Black, your Couples in Trouble Expert. Since 1999, I have guided many formerly frustrated and desperately unhappy Couples in Trouble to happiness, closeness and having more fun together than they ever imagined. My years of experience combined with your commitment to your personal growth will enable you to welcome the results you have always wanted and never believed were possible in your marriage.

Learn more at