The holiday season has arrived, ladies and gents. Fake snowmen, evergreen trees, and jolly rotund fellows shall soon proliferate across our shopping malls and television screens. The snow is falling in the mountains (and, if the National Weather Service is to be believed, may fall here in the lowlands as well). In homes throughout the land, families will gather together and exchange gifts.
If I may, I would like to respectfully suggest a slightly different course of action: don’t buy them stuff. Or rather, don’t buy them stuff simply for the sake of buying them something, rather than nothing. Instead, consider an alternate holiday gifting plan.
Here’s a modest proposal: spend your time instead of your money. Please don’t misunderstand me: I don’t mean to suggest that the gifts that you might purchase are somehow unappreciated or unwelcome. Far from it. However, the gift of your time, energy, and genuine attention may mean much more than any simple trinket from the mall.
So often in our culture, we give stuff instead of giving of ourselves. Whether due to habit, stress, or a lack of imagination, we feel that we must purchase something in order to validate our feelings for the gift’s intended recipient. Even more unfortunately, we seem to believe that the dollar value of the gift somehow represents our feelings for the gift’s recipient.
Give your time. Give your (actual, undivided) attention. Give a meal that you’ve actually prepared yourself. Pick up the tab at Starbucks (or preferably, an independent coffeehouse) and actually talk to your mom or dad for an hour or so. Take a couple of hours and do yard work. Rather than shelling out your money, utilize your time and energy.
I don’t mean to denigrate the thoughtful gifts that we buy for friends and family. A considerate purchase can bring the recipient a great deal of joy, especially when it represents sincere effort and affection on the part of the giver.
Plus, holiday shopping certainly stimulates the local economy! However, you may have an even more valuable gift to give that means just as much to the recipient and keeps that cash in your pocket.
Our attention is so fragmented today that it has become our most valuable commodity. We have become addicted to distraction, often unknowingly so. The world is at our fingertips, but so often it blinds us to what’s right in front of our faces. The result is that we become disconnected from those we love while we crave connection to virtual “friends” and “followers” like a junkie craving another hit. However, we have the power to halt this erosion of human relationships.
Our time, and the power to control how we spend it, is the most valuable resource we have. Please consider this when contemplating your holiday shopping list. Give your time, give your energy, and give your precious, precious attention. I suspect that those on your list would appreciate such a gift immensely.
Happy Holidays, all. Now get off my lawn.