For years now, I have actually felt BOTH excited AND uneasy when it comes to holiday gift shopping. It's not that I don't thoroughly enjoy giving gifts to those in need and otherwise. In fact, our family just finished assisting my husband's boys' advisery at the local high school to send off 10 boxes to a local family this week. Our run to Target to complete the gift list thrilled me to my core. I was totally focused and energized by the experience. The electric scooter for the 11 year old boy made our eyes glisten at the mere thought of his surprise on Christmas morning.
We also relish giving to many others via donations or through a special item that hits us as just right for a certain individual who touches our lives in some way.
And, of course, we love the feeling of surprising our own children with some treats, big and small, under the tree.
For me it is not so much spending the money, although come January there is typically a feeling of angst when we receive our credit card bill, but rather through the years, probably especially for a non-shopper like me (shopping often feels very draining to me so it is a rare occurrence), the whole prospect of spending the beloved month of December bogged down with a shopping list for individuals who really don't need a darn thing, leaves me feeling a chill that does not match the warmth of the season.
Perhaps it is due to the environmental awareness that was deeply imprinted on me as a child. Or maybe it has to do with my minimalist nature. (I came home from Thanksgiving this year with a strong desire to give away all of our wedding crystal. I mean, 20 highball glasses that have never been used, let's unload those puppies. And, as for my husband's agreeing to this, not so much, not yet) Then again, maybe it stems from my reflective, contemplative nature that relishes things unseen at least as much, often more, than the material. (For me there is no greater pleasure than walking on a sunny day with my eyes often lifted to the sky, taking in deep, grateful breaths, and feeling my soul connected to the Oneness.) Clearly, this is not a girl who is going to find a trip to Nordstrom Rack an appealing outing.
To read me is to know me, so please believe me when I adhere again to my genuine offering that there are millions of paths up the mountaintop. So, for all of you shoppers out there, I bless your path. Many of my dear friends love to shop. This time of year simply brings to the forefront, for me, my dislike of shopping and too much stuff, both of which make me feel a little out of sorts, fatigued and even at times nauseous. Frankly, it makes me yearn all the more for the quiet of my inner world.
Now to gather with friends under lights to celebrate the season with food and beverages, well, THAT's quite a different story. Count me right on in for that!
For these reasons and more, through the years in our extended family on both sides, I have initiated and most have at first reluctantly agreed, but eventually come to feel relief, to limit gift-giving. We have tried many different ways to do this with much success. Now, if anything, it has become one gift that the whole family can enjoy together. It feels good, not overdone and mindful on so many levels.
We are also implementing for the first time this year an idea from a mother in the Chicago Tribune for our children: One Want, One Need, One Wear, One Read. When I first read this, I felt great excitement inside, as in, finally a way to make sense of it all.
For neighbors and family friends, we have always ordered tins of Virginia peanuts representing something that we love from my childhood spent in that state. Sometimes we throw in a six-pack of good beer and a sweet for the kiddos. It feels simple and good to share these small tokens with others.
Our family is blessed (or not) depending on how one looks at it to really want for nothing. And I literally mean, nothing. If anything, a great gift to our children would be a smaller Christmas morning. I remember my ballet teachers from Romania when I was a young girl being able to recall exactly what gift they received for Christmas at ages 5, 6, 7 and beyond. Why? How? Because it was the only one they received—ONE memorable thing—a sled, a winter coat, a special book. Can you imagine? Hearing this at age seven or so, deeply affected me, even though at that time, mischievous and gift-crazed little Annie ALSO used to count gifts in piles under the tree for each family member.
I definitely don't want to be a "Debbie Downer" on anyone's gift giving joy as I know it is a blessed experience to both give and receive. For us though, I can simply feel in my interior when I am not in harmony with following the tide of what society deems the norm. There has come a point where the dense materialism of this season has just gone too far for me. I just can't to it anymore at the extreme levels.
So, to each his own this holiday, for sure! Buy away if that is your thing! I am sure that many will adore your beautiful gifts! But, for those who desire a slightly less packaged holiday, know that you are not alone. Yes, I will rally and eventually get on out there to do my shopping thing, if to a lesser degree than many, but in the meantime, I am going to literally inhale this season that I adore by enjoying not only the seen, but also the unseen and deeply felt aspects of it, each day.
Merry, Merry! Happy, Happy!