When talking about guilt, I often define the emotion as "the gift that keeps on giving." I am sure I don't know one person who is not familiar with guilt of this kind. Real guilt is what we feel when we have done or said or not done or not said something that causes another person hurt. False guilt comes attached to statements that include verbs like "should, ought, must, and have to." I (you) should bake cookies for all the neighbors. I (you) have to spend time with both sides of my family. I (you) ought to be grateful for the gift. I'll bet you can fill in from your own experience. False guilt is a gift with strings attached--expectations of ourselves that have been communicated to us by others. We need to be very careful during the holiday season that we don't give gifts with strings attached--messages about what is now owed to us because of how much we chose to give--whether financially, emotionally, mentally, and/or spiritually. We need to give from our heart because we want to. We need to learn to give for the pure joy of giving. As you wrap each gift, send each card, bake each cookie, plan a family gathering, carefully check in with yourself that your giving--of your time, energy, love, money--comes free of strings.