A time of giving. Giving what? I have yet to venture out into the world of retail madness this Holiday Season. In fact, I have been avoiding it like the plague. It's not that I don't like to give. Giving feels wonderful. I just don't like to give under pressure. This year I am feeling the pressure more than usual. But I am also feeling the procrastination more than last. And like all other aspects of my short life, I am over-thinking my reasoning for avoidance. While I am not a wise sage, nor am I anywhere near enlightenment of any kinda; I have pretty much determined my Christmas giving quandary stems from a sense of selfishness. Not the kind of selfishness that makes receiving better than giving. The kinda of selfishness that screams "to give-just to give-is sometimes more selfish than not."
Both Ryan and I have very generous parents in both the physical and spiritual nature. We also have amazing siblings, relatives and friends. So naturally at this time of year, we rack our brains to come up with gifts that will have meaning for those who bring so much meaning to our lives. This year two things have happened. First, when it comes to our parents, they all requested that the greatest gift of all would be time. Time with each other as couples, time with them, time to help with things we would most likely already jump in to help with. Second, we cannot figure out what items to give that would have meaning. This year more than years past we are in a situation that we could purchase nice things for these people, but nice isn't always meaningful. So why is it so hard to just accept that on Christmas morning, there may not be a present to be opened with my name in the "from" section of the tag? Why do I feel like a bad person if there is not a physical item listed next to each person's name?
I think part of it is because nine months out of the year, we are all just going about our selfish business. Not paying any attention to what the people in our lives may need or want or what they just plain enjoy. Instead the last month of the year, we scramble to be present in their lives in order to be able to buy and feel good about giving. Again it goes back to selfishness, tack on a little consumer pressure, and what you have is loads of adults buying-just so they can give. What would it take to eliminate that feeling of guilt from not buying just to give? The only solution I can come up with, I am not able to implement this year. Starting January 1, 2012, I vow to pay more attention to the people in my life every day. Here is what I want to happen. Through out the course of the year, not the 3rd week in December, because I will be present in people's lives, I will come across things they may need, want, or like. And then and there, I will take note or even purchase those things. I may chose to give them in the moment or I may hang on to them until Christmas morning but either way I will know that it will be a gift of meaning not afterthought.
Now, I don't have children and when I do I will not deny them Christmas morning gifts from Santa; but as they get older I hope that I have the courage to teach them that one meaningful gift, whether it be physical or spiritual is much more special than ten that were bought under holiday pressure.