The days are noticeably shorter here now. We are definitely on the inward path as we start to bundle up for the season of long, cold nights and cozy houses. During this “rounding the corner” it is a good time to talk with loved ones about the upcoming holidays and reexamine the gift giving rituals that many entail. My family has been noticing and remarking over the last number of years that the gift giving has gotten a bit out of hand, and hopefully this year will be the one where we start new traditions… ones that value presence over presents.
We would like to get away from the list of wants. It is different if you know someone so well that you can foresee what would help their life in some way, but if you are just going to the store to purchase an item off of someone’s list it turns into running an errand instead of a genuine gift giving scenario. Some ideas that we are entertaining include doing away with the presents for adults, curbing the ones for the children, and having a pitch-in dinner instead. We also thought it could be nice to embrace the idea that creativity blooms within restrictions. Some people love the ritual of the holiday gift, and so we thought we’d include it in a fun and reasonable way by turning it into a detective game of sorts. We would make up a “getting-to-know-you” questionnaire (even your siblings change through the years), have everyone fill one out, then pull them from a hat. The person who is coming up with a gift has to use their imagination to figure out what might be a fun addition to their recipient’s life. We are considering putting a few additional twists on the exchange to encourage even more creativity. We are thinking of putting a low monetary cap on the gift, as well as a rule that it must be useable in some way (not just another knickknack).
These are just a few ideas that my family is considering. There are a lot of us, with a lot of different wants and needs, so it will be interesting to see what comes of this attempt to adapt tradition into something that more genuinely fits our way of thinking today. I would love to hear of any other ideas that you have utilized, and would love to hear of your journeys of creating new holiday traditions (or restoring older ones) that break with the heavy-on-consumerism ways of the last half century.
“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
“In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”
I recently bought a ticket to a fundraiser for a local community center. My neighbors were heading the event, and I love them dearly and wanted to support their very helpful cause. I knew I would know no one else at the dinner, though, and since my neighbors would be busy with the running of the event I wouldn’t be chatting much with them. So, it turned out to be a wonderful happenchance when they introduced me to one of the customers of the food pantry who was also there by himself. (The fundraiser had “sponsor a neighbor” tickets so that you could pay someone’s way who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to come.) His name was Terrence and he has been blind for the last 13 years. We had a very lovely time eating and chatting together and toward the end of the event he confided in me that he had a wonderful time, although he had been prepared to be the “lone blind guy in the corner” as was generally the case. I told him that I had thought I’d be in the same boat (although he did have the “blind” category over me!). We both benefited from our chance encounter and had a lovely time, and it once again proves that you should never underestimate the power of presence.
We are all here on this journey together.