I wrote about Redefining The Holidays For The Current Economy on Thursday. Stephanie called me on the fact that while I was writing about redefining the holidays, I focussed mostly on frugal gifts and saving money. It’s a very good point, and I realized that this post needed a second part: Redefining The Holidays To Focus On What Matters Most. …
As many of you know, we had a recent call to reality here in our household. Matt lost half his blood volume due to an ulcer, was in the hospital ICU for several days, and is still recovering his red blood cells. I had a relative that died this way, so I certainly thought about the frailty of our own mortality. And how lucky we are to have our lives.
In my previous post I wrote:
Above all else, remember that the true spirit of the holidays is the celebration of all that we have – our families, our friends, and our dreams. I hope that you are good to yourselves this holiday season, and allow yourselves to set economic and physical limits as you nurture yourself and those around you – in mind, body, and spirit.
But there is more to say about this, isn’t there?
On Gift Giving…
I don’t want to completely discourage you from giving gifts. The reason is this: some of us truly enjoy giving gifts. We like to show our appreciation for others, to find the perfect and most thoughtful present for a loved one. But I do want to encourage us all to rethink our gift-giving.
Please think long and hard about one single gift that will put a smile on someone’s face, and touch their heart. It is not necessarily an expensive gift (for surely it would not make a person happy if they knew you went into debt to give them a gift), it is a thoughtful gift.
What do you share with that person? What good memories can you remind them about? What matters to them most in the world, and how can you find a way to show that you understand and support it?
Can you do this without spending money? I bet you could find a way.
For me, gift giving isn’t inherently bad. What is bad is going into debt to give people things that they don’t need or want. Gift giving should come from the heart, from the depths of our souls. It is not about things, it is about showing the people we love that we care about them deeply. Truly, it should be the thought – and the heart – that counts.
On More Than Simple Gifts…
Holidays are about more than giving and receiving things, aren’t they? They are about coming together, sharing our love, being thankful for our hopes and dreams, learning more about one another, taking a break from our everyday lives, and warming our tummies, too.
The holidays are not a time to throw our values to the wind – in fact this is a time to reinvigorate our values, to remember what matters to us most, and to come together to share those values. So I ask that you remember what matters to you, and infuse your holiday celebration with these beliefs.
This goes far beyond traditional gift giving. How can you create a meal that makes you proud (for instance, it’s local, organic, seasonal, nutritious, from scratch)? How can you bring your family and friends closer (many of you gave excellent suggestions in Thursday’s comments)? How can you show the world you care about our future? How can you make a difference in the lives of people and creatures whose causes you advocate? How can you remember the important issues in your life, and positively contribute to those issues during the holidays?
Again, it is more than money – it is time, it is your heart, it is your soul. For these, you must give thought. These are your gifts to the world. And these are your gifts to yourself – for these are what matter to you most.
Deb G wrote, “I think one of the things I like best about this time of year is it challenges my creativity.” Indeed, these gifts to your loved ones, your planet, and yourself require much creative thought. Especially during these economic times, it is important to stretch those creative muscles and find ways to give of yourself that don’t require money. And to redefine what we think of as gifts. We can give gifts of time, of patience, of gratitude, of beauty, of love, of nurturing, of companionship, and of our whole selves.
So I Throw This Out To You All: How Can We Give Gifts Without Spending Money?
Remember, we are talking about giving to our loved ones, our futures, and peoples, creatures, and issues we care about. How can we give our time, our hearts, our souls?