It’s the beginning of September and I’ve already seen a morning news segment on how to budget for your holiday shopping. It annoyed me as I watched them talked about how the average family spends $1000 on holiday gifts, and what are the best ways to start saving money now. This will only lead to more stories about the most wanted, the best gifts, the great deals for the holidays. I felt troubled by the amount of waste in money, time, and energy that feeds into our consumerist culture. What values are we teaching our children to be “good” boys and girls in exchange for toys that clutter our homes? Or what monetary value is equal to how much we love and care? Imagine the level of stress we need to endure in the next few months over what to buy, how much they cost, will the person like the gift, and how does that reflect on me, or my love for them? How much are people giving out of fear of disappointment and judgment? And are the receivers who don’t like the gifts accepting them out of guilt?
The best form of giving is when it comes out of the goodness of someone’s heart and received with gratitude. As pure as a child sharing a snack with a friend, it does not have to be something expensive or extravagant. It only needs to be genuine, where the exchange itself becomes the gift. It’s knowing that someone was thinking of you with the smallest gesture. And in the true spirit of the KonMari method, even if you don’t love the item, you still can receive and enjoy the sentiment. You can either learn the meaning of the gift and grow to love it, or you can feel gratitude and let it go responsibly.
I’m all for giving the gift of special memories, a shared experience that you can reflect on and continue to feel the joy whenever the memory is called upon. It may take a little more creativity, and you may feel nervous about breaking the tradition of opening lots of gifts. But remember, that every physical gift comes with baggage. Where will you keep it? How soon before the novelty wears off? Will it become the source of future conflicts about cleaning up or the feeling it was a waste of money?
What if the money was spent on a shared experience? It may be a special activity you can plan together, and enjoy the excitement from the anticipation. Or learn something new, try something different together? An experience is something you can recall and feel the happiness again and again. It’s something you can take with you and share freely. You may even start a new tradition and invite others to join you. The gift of experience not only brings joy to the giver and receiver, but it can also continue to grow your bond with its positive energy.
Would you consider something different this holiday season?