To give is to receive… giving, gluttony and sheer madness.
During this time of year many people get caught up with ideas of dutiful giving, the compelling feeling that one must be all and do all and buy all, just to fulfill what they have ingrained upon themselves from listening to others and the media as the holiday becomes an obligation. Fear sets in that somehow they may forget a person on their created list, run late or be unable to attend yet another festivity or function, worry that somehow this holiday season will not fulfill the expectations of self or others. I am specifically talking about Christmas as it is the whirlwind of gifting and activities.
One can easily go to any public place of shopping and witness the frenzy and fury that will unfold right before your eyes. Dashing about with sour expressions of running out of time and or money. Store employees being overworked and burdened by the need to have ridiculous open hours, as if we all did not get the memo some 300 days ago, that Christmas is always on December 25th. What a tangled and snarly web some weave when they allow expectations and outcome to frazzle up their lives. In my observance I have noticed that it appears many people partaking in the madness aspect are not even Christians, though the holiday is/was for that particular faith? It has become a catch all to end all time of unbalanced, unharmonious excess for many.
So stop. Breathe. Go inward and discover what it truly means to give and receive. To bring love, joy, and meaning to yourself and to others. To partake in this time of year from the heart and with authentic desire to bring joy.
I learned fairly early on in life whenever I tried desperately to figure out what to buy my parents for holiday gifts. The quandary was that my parents did not actually need anything, and if they desired something they could simply purchase it for themselves. So the dilemma, what IS important? Now don’t misunderstand, I am not saying there is anything wrong with giving occasional gifts that bring temporary glimmers of delight to the receiver. Moments of sheer joy from objects of affection are wonderful and needed, whether to another person or given to oneself. This is about the big stuff, the meaningful touch the heart kind of giving that gives back to the giver too. So with my parents I decided to create objects of affection, personalized sweatshirts, paintings, art pieces, written stories, photo projects, anything to stir emotions and memories both created and revisited. I am committed to keep this spirit of giving today.
The very best gifts are those that are generally the gift of self, our time, our actions, from our genuine hearts. A kind word, a loving touch, a handwritten letter or phone call, all the not-so-common-these-days courtesies, opening a door, assisting someone across the street, telling or reading stories. That authentic extension of care and compassion that makes a difference or touches the heart however lightly or deeply.
When you do purchase a gift, make sure you have put real thought into it, be thoughtful and mindful of the way it will fit with the intended person. Become present about the giving and receiving of presents. Never give a gift out of obligation or hastily… that is faux and superficial. Gifts and giving should serve the purpose of intimate acts of affection and love.
Let’s teach our children, as we teach and remind ourselves to be mindful, appreciative, compassionate and authentic when giving or receiving. It’s ok for children to receive only a few favorite objects, not a dozen or more (even Santa should have a few gift limit). I don’t know about you, but my observation has always been that when there are too many gifts only one or two ever get played with or used, the rest just get tucked away or set aside collecting dust. The concept of less is more is a truism in many cases. Bring back some quality time with family and friends. Play a game of Monopoly, charades, cards or anything that has interaction. Go for walks, have long talks, share your time and experiences, while creating new ones.
Learn to set boundaries and how to say “no thank you.” Select only the very best opportunities to spend your time and self with. If you are not going to participate fully and genuinely, pass on the invitation or gathering. Being authentic starts with self and carries over into everything you encounter. When you give fully you shall receive abundantly.
Love to you all during this fantastical and beautiful time of year, and every moment of every day.