Last year, I was invited to a Christmas dinner by a friend. Her kid was showered with tons of gifts from friends and families. That was generous, I thought. As the child unwrapped one gift after another, there was a few minutes of excitement. Another few minutes later, that glow of anticipation in her eyes slowly faded. She left her presents on the floor and went to grab her favorite old doll. Her grandma picked one of the new animator mini dolls, reshowed it to her and gently convinced her into playing it. The kid reluctantly took it, held it in her hand for a spell as if to satisfy her grandma and then left to run to other kids and played with them. Five minutes later, my friend’s daughter had become oblivious of the animator mini doll.
Also last year, another friend was stressing out on her budget for Christmas presents for kins and pals. To count up to that weight was the frequent and familiar dilemma of what to give for each of her gift recipient. “Would he like it? Would she use it? Would my nephew be happy about it?” At that time, as if the earth’s gravity was centered on her shoulders.
About three or four years ago, a few of my colleagues organized a simple exchange gift for Christmas. It was agreed en masse that an untroublesome $5 goodie or token or any useful item be prepared to be randomly picked by each participant corresponding to the numbers they’d drawn early on in that supposed just-for-laugh-get-together. When one of my workmates got her mystery present, she excitedly freed the item from its box. Suddenly, the grin like a Cheshire cat on her face transformed into a look of annoyance when she held a one-liter bottle of shampoo low in the air! The next day, she was still launching a nonviolent tirade in the office throwing her uninhibited criticism of thoughtlessness and lack of creativity to the secret Santa who prepared it.
This year, less than a month before Christmas, another person known to me is working a lot of extra hours so she can purchase knickknacks for her children and grand-kids. I reckoned that was nice until I heard her let out a little grumble of how Christmas can be so expensive and tiring.
Christmas season is supposed to be a happy holiday however it is overshadowed by pathological over-consumerism that its meaning is too far-fetched from what it used to be. Credit cards are beaten hardly. Pockets are bleeding badly. People hammer themselves with worries of having to wait on long queues in shopping centers carrying with them a long shopping list. Even before the holiday season arrives, many have already exhausted not only their almighty dollars but also their mental and emotional energy. There is so much expectation of giving and receiving material gifts. Subsequently, stress and anxiety levels are going through the roof. Thus, Christmas is becoming anything but merry!
It’s definitely not wrong to give and receive gifts but if the Yuletide season is marked by material things which overtime is evolveing to such and revolving around it, then we are assigning it a symbol that is so faulty, it is on its way to becoming a complete contradiction of its true meaning. Maybe it’s time to redefine Christmas gift-giving to make it more meaningful, purposeful and useful. After all, gifts should not always come in material form. There are many ways to make your presents a wonderful one. You can give or do some of the following which are relatively non-material. You can be assured that the recipients will be stirred by your genuine thoughtfulness.
- Give your friend whom you’ve never seen for a long time a phone call.
- Bake a cake for a nice workmate.
- Give a grocery voucher for someone who is struggling to get by.
- Cook your wife her favorite food.
- Donate to a friend’s favorite charity.
- Visit someone who is lonely.
- Visit some friends. Don’t just catch up. Make the visit more meaningful.
- Take a brother for a hike or encourage your sister to go for a walk.
- Help someone with decluttering the house.
- Mow your old neighbor’s lawn.
- Take the kids to watch their favorite movies.
- Give someone a hug.
- Walk your neighbors dogs.
- Babysit for a night.
- Teach a friend a skill that you are an expert of (e.g. swimming, dancing, etc.).
- Take the kids to the zoo.
- Give experiential gifts – movie or concert tickets, adventure vouchers (e.g.kayaking, scuba diving, skydiving, zip-lining), etc. Just make sure they are interested to do these.
- Teach your kids how to give back and to always be grateful.
- Talk to an elderly.
- Enjoy a simple get together with family and friends.
- Inspire someone.
- Volunteer for a good cause like tree planting or visiting residents of Aged Care facilities or donate foods in a food bank.
- Prepare extra lunch for your kids to share with some classmates or schoolmates who can’t afford to bring their own lunch in school.
- Bring your mother her favorite flower.
- Do an activity with your father that he enjoys the most.
- Go out camping with friends and families.
- Give someone a massage voucher.
- Give your husband a good massage.
- Offer someone a lift.
- Give someone consumables – a bottle of wine for wine lovers or prepaid coffee card for coffeephiles, etc.
- Appreciate even the little things you receive.
- Do a thing that your whole family can do together.
- Gift a friend a collection of his or her favorite i-tune songs.
- Sign up a loved one to a class he/she is interested in like cooking, baking, writing, public speaking, yoga, etc.
- Just be nice.
There are other numerous creative ways you can give to someone you love without costing you an arm and a leg. Think outside the mall. You can always spread the merriment during the holiday season without putting a dent in your wallet. The time you share and the memories you create can have more impact to those lives you touch. These are much more than the gifts wrapped in fancy papers adorned with fancy ribbons. It is guaranteed that you will not find these in the buying and selling websites under unwanted gifts category shortly after the holiday season. And you can surely do these any time of the year too.