Gift Giving: As Easy as 1-2-3-4
Here we are on Cyber Monday, the most recent perversion of the holiday shopping season. Black Friday wasn’t enough, I guess. It conjures up the dizzying opening scene from the most recent cinematic iteration of Dr. Seuss’ cautionary tale on consumerism: How the Grinch Stole Christmas. People skipping out early on Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends to get an early start on buying $500 headphones for $20 less. Camping out in the bitter cold to be first in line at a Toys ‘R Us (RIP). Body-checking each other to grab the last Tickle-Me-Elmo (or what is it this year? LOL Surprise?) or iPhone or…whatever. If we can all compose ourselves for a moment, can we agree that the whole thing is… absurd? Excessive? The complete opposite of what we unanimously agree is the “reason for the season”?
And I could go on about mindless consumerism and sustainable living and the commercialization and secular adoption of a religious holy day – which, by the way, I think is totally odd – but I digress. (ooo I’m glad I haven’t activated comments on here!)
If we haven’t indulged in the frenzy of shopping already, we are all for sure thinking about what we are going to get the people on our list. Here’s a quick tip: keep a running list of gifts for people as things come up throughout the year: Susie Q. is telling you how much she loved her garden ornament that broke last spring? Boom. Write it down. You notice that when your little brother Jonny opens a beer for you at his place he does it by whacking the top against the counter? Boom: Jonny’s down for a bottle opener. Or better yet, did you notice that the gate latch on your aunt’s fence is broken? How about fixing it for her without even mentioning that you did it?
As a parent, it is so easy to buy our kids stuff. Thirty minutes on Amazon and my cart has multiplied like rabbits. I cull this list by utilizing the “save for later” option in the cart – what doesn’t make the cut this time might for the next birthday. I can’t remember when or how but sometime before the first Christmas with our first child my husband and I came across this great four gift concept:
Thanks to the double edge sword that is the age of social media, there are many unique and thoughtful ideas out there about bestowing more intangible gifts to our children. Generosity. Kindness. Charity. Here are a few I have come across:
Donate a bag of their gently used toys to children in need.
Plan a random act of kindness.
Invite them to be a Santa, when the time comes.
I’ll leave you with this thought: we can give each other so much more than a molded hunk of plastic or a souped-up circuit board. What we need, now more than ever, is the gift of connection, of hope. It is essential for our children to see a functional example of what kindness can look like, for them to learn what it means to be generous by being invited to actively participate in acts of generosity, of charity. My aunt and little cousin spent their Thanksgiving morning volunteering at a food bank. He was invited to engage in an act of selflessness, of charity, to see something bigger than himself. That is a memory that is going to stick with him, to shape him. What better gift is there than that?