Rethink the season of giving

#9 – Rethink the Season of Giving

To Give or Not to Give…That Should be the Question

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
A partridge in a pear tree…

So goes the song, listing the various gifts that were given during the twelve days of Christmas. And then there is Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby”, which is an ode to the gift-giving culture of Christmas. What is it about this holiday that drives us all to the mall? This year rethink the season of giving.

In 2018, holiday retail spending in the US crossed a trillion dollars! That’s a TRILLION dollars – 1 followed by 12 zeroes. The shopping frenzy usually starts immediately after Thanksgiving, with many stores around North America opening early for Black Friday sales. Recent years have seen a movement against this commercialization trend, with many people signing up for “Buy Nothing Day” or the “No Buy November” challenge. But what about December?

When it comes to gifts, we all struggle with how much and how many. For many families, Christmas is the one time of the year when they buy gifts. So is it OK to max out credit cards for a once-a-year shopping spree? It’s Christmas after all. What if we plan our purchases and pay for everything ahead of time? And then there’s the movement towards sustainable and earth-friendly? What about ethical gift-giving? Can’t a gift simply be an expression of affection? You see how we can argue this from both sides.

Whatever your stance on gift-giving this Christmas, here are a few things to consider:

A Gift of Time

Give the gift of your time to the people you love. This is especially true for your family and friends. We lead increasingly busy, multi-tasked, over-scheduled lives. Your undivided attention for your child, spouse, parent or sibling are the most memorable gifts you can give. Ask your loved ones how they would like to spend a day or an evening with you. And then follow through. Preferably without devices.

A Gift of Effort

Make something with your hands. Run an errand for a neighbor. Cook a meal for a co-worker. Volunteer at your favourite charity on a day that’s not Thanksgiving. Your efforts, big or small reflect your regard for the recipient of your gift. And some of the most thoughtful gifts are homemade and show that you were paying attention.

Gifts That You Can Buy

When you spend your money, make it count. If all else fails, there are a ton of gift lists that come out at this time of the year. Oprah’s Favourite Things is a good place to start. There are top gifts for travelers and tech lovers, the bookworms and the fashionistas.

Buy many, buy a few. As we go into the festive season, remember that holidays are a celebration of your time with family and friends. The most precious gift that you can give to your loved ones is the gift of YOU. Everything else is just stuff.