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….