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Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentines Day, birthdays, anniversaries and other holidays have exponentially grown to revolve around consumerism and excessive behavior. We feel we have an obligation, rather than an opportunity to give. This leads to stress, resentment and spending beyond one’s means.

That may be about as far removed from the original purpose of these holidays as we could get. Like most everything else, major corporations and much of the rest of society has successfully monetized these formerly meaningful events and sucked a lot of the beauty out of them.

But just like anything else in life, we can take it back any time we choose.

As a family, we are making a conscious decision to start our own holiday traditions that are more congruent with our ethos and consequent lifestyle.

For us, holidays are a time of reflection on the many blessings we have. It’s a time to be aware and grateful for the deep, meaningful relationships we have, and to invest dedicated time in them. It is not a time where we stress or feel obligated to consume, spend money, attend every holiday party or gorge ourselves on foods we normally wouldn’t touch. (Except Eggnog. I love Eggnog.)

For holidays, we give a gift of time, art, gratitude or service. We give from the heart. Gifts that reflect our attention, care and awareness of those we love.

We may give a coupon for a date or plan a family vacation. We may create a piece of art like a painting, poem or a letter of appreciation. Or we might make an herb garden together. We gift dedicated time to each other. Either in the time we spent creating a gift or the time we will spend with each other.

We may also give a gift of philanthropic service by donating time or money to our favorite charity on behalf of the person we are gifting to.

We are not against gift giving at all. Every day we pay attention to what our loved ones care about. We love to give gifts from the heart. Throughout the year, we may see things we want to buy for a friend or family member. Something we know will bring a smile to their face.

When we do, we don’t wait on a holiday to give it. We just buy it or make it and give it as a random act of caring and kindness. That way the gift is always given as a genuine gift from the heart, and never out of a feeling of obligation.

Have you ever received a gift from someone at a random time? We are usually flabbergasted that someone gave us a gift outside of a designated gift-giving day. It’s an entirely different experience than when you receive a gift on a holiday, anniversary or birthday.  It’s memorable, impacting and meaningful.

You know you’re on the right track when the act of giving outweighs the value that the recipient puts on the actual gift.

Holidays and other special occasions are about spending dedicated time with one another, and we are committed, as a family, to taking our holidays back and making them our own; keeping them sacred. This is the tradition we want to teach our children and pass down the family line.

Imagine what the world might look like if everyone rejected the tradition of stress, excess and consumption and took their holidays back. Every revolution starts with one person making a commitment to change. It could be you, and me, and….

 

9 Comments

  1. Cass on December 17, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    I love giving gifts at random times. I love giving gifts period. All you have to do is pay attention to your friends and family needs. It is so hard for our generation to think about others for some reason. I don’t know why this has become such a challenge other than complete and total self-absorption. I agree 100% that the holidays have completely lost their true meaning and I love how you guys are taking it back. We will get to do that soon and I am so excited!!! Great post!

    • Jared Angaza on December 19, 2012 at 8:18 AM

      Thanks Cassie! We are SOOOOOOOO excited for you guys! Holla back on that email and lets plan a time to Skype!

  2. Ashley Logsdon on December 17, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    Love this – very true, and definitely something we are doing more and more of. I haven’t gotten much this year for people…but am spending time creating paintings and making crafts with the kids and baking all kinds of goodies to share. We’re excited about some fun events we’re going to do with our family and friends, and really enjoying the season minus the commercialism!

    • Jared Angaza on December 19, 2012 at 8:21 AM

      Excellent. You have always lead the way in this department. The gifts you give are always so meaningful and impacting, and from the heart. You’ve certainly inspired me to think more along this path, and to process through what will be our family traditions. You’re an excellent gift giver, in the purest and most sincere way. The way it ought to be. Much love, sister.

  3. Ryan Eggenberger on December 17, 2012 at 7:26 PM

    Great post, Jared. This reminds me of a line from the Catholic catechism that talks about the topic of ‘rest’ for such occasions. I think it can be applied to what you’re talking about:

    “The sabbath brings everyday work to a halt and provides a respite. It is a day of protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money” CCC paragraph 2172.

    Thanks for the post!

    • Jared Angaza on December 19, 2012 at 8:23 AM

      Thanks Ryan. Great quote, and I completely agree. Taking a sabbath is also an important dynamic in our family. I learned that from my parents, as they always set such a good example in that department. This is also part of our family tradition!

  4. Teri @ StumblingAroundInTheLight on December 18, 2012 at 7:31 PM

    We are so there.
    And – You put it so concisely & compellingly!
    Thankful for you all.

    • Jared Angaza on December 19, 2012 at 8:15 AM

      Thanks Teri! We’ve thought about it a lot. We started working through all of this early in the year, right after Saoirse was born. We want to be just as deliberate about how we handle holidays as we are about where we live, our perspective, what we give attention to, etc. And I’m stoked that the whole family is on board with this line of thinking as well!

  5. Christopher Battles on January 2, 2013 at 3:27 AM

    Thank you Jared.
    Setting times to be together is what it is about. Gifts are fine, but those times of playing games and watching movies and helping cook/bake are where the memories reside.

    K, bye

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