I’m also thinking about the larger picture of gratitude. During the holiday season, there is so much emphasis on the consumer aspect of gifting and receiving.
Most of us have heard, “it’s the thought that counts” and that’s especially true in times of gift-giving. Some of my most treasured gifts are the ones that are thoughtfully put together. I’ve always felt a deep gratitude for gifts that are handmade for me, or clearly purchased especially with me in mind.
Whether you decide to participate in gift-giving or abstain from it all together, keeping an attitude of gratitude in your heart is a precious gift in itself during the stressful hustle and bustle of the holidays.
Consciously choosing where to spend your money can itself be an act of gratitude. You can purchase supplies from local merchants to make hand-made gifts, which in turn supports your local economy. Or you can buy gifts directly from artists or crafts-persons, knowing you are directly helping someone pay their rent and put food on their table.
When you buy from a department store or big-box shop, you are also helping the employees and owners pay for groceries and put their kids through school, just in a more diluted way (and often highly unbalanced in terms of pay scale from the top manager to the bottom worker of the corporation).
Whether you choose to spend your money or not, please don’t get caught up in the obligation of giving gifts. You can share the gratitude in your heart with others in alternate ways. A phone call to a distant friend, offering to babysit for a new parent, walking someone’s dog, shoveling someone’s snow, or reading to an elderly relative are all beautiful ways of sharing gratitude.
More ways to give gifts of gratitude without spending a dime:
- Write a letter of appreciation to a local teacher
- Make eye contact, smile and say “hello” to the people you pass
- Help an elderly neighbor with their dishes, laundry, or running errands
- Write a cheerful quote and put it under their windshield wiper of a stranger’s car
- Invite someone you know is alone for the holidays to an afternoon of conversation and tea
Please also give yourself the gift of reading this powerful article, written by Native American elder Brother Phil, about Thanksgiving. I’ve been working my way through the Shift Network’s Indigenous Wisdom Library, which is a spectacular gathering of wisdom from around the world.
Lastly, if you absolutely love gift-giving and it makes your heart sing, then make each gift you give a genuine pleasure for you and a treasure for the other person. Have fun planning out your gifts, stay present in the joy of your giving, and keep gratitude fully in your heart as you share your gifts with those you love.