Christmas is coming.
And with it, mounting pressure to buy gifts for everyone we work with, are related to, or once shared a knowing look with while waiting in line for an incompetent barista.
This is the narrative that marketing agencies push because their end goal is to get us to buy more products. The deeper the hook of consumerism goes into our mouths, the better they’ve done their job. While our society is being bombarded with brainwashing messages of how much we “need,” it can be hard to celebrate the season without getting caught in the delusional undertow that “more” is necessarily “better.”
One silver bullet I’ve found the past few years is as obvious as the nose on my face, but it took me several years to sniff out. I strive to avoid the commercials and advertisements I see everywhere I turn—except for the polar bear Coke commercials, I’m a sucker for those.
Instead of trusting the latest marketing push for my attention, and therefore money, I rely on a healthy dose intentionality to guide me through my gift giving.
I take time every day to allow my thoughts to wander as I think of friends and loved ones. Some might call it meditation, and frankly, I’m not sure what it is precisely. It’s just time spent considering my loved ones. I consider where they are in life, what’s changed, and most importantly, what would communicate my love and support for them in their unique and individual journey.
It isn’t time spent feeling pressure to get the it gift of the season. Personal and thought-filled gifts trump a blind purchase all 31 days of December, guaranteed.
For instance, one of my good friends and I had an ongoing joke about how he didn’t know himself very well. He had a hard time looking into himself and understanding the motivations that ruled his life. After much thought I bought him a Moleskine journal. I wanted him to have something to jot down his thoughts and dreams.
In a true case of irony, it promptly was given the diagnosis of “leprosy” and quarantined to the dark corners of his bookcase for a calendar year.
Now, however, it’s a regular part of his life—and is full of ideas spewing from his artistic mind. The gift might not have been as cool as a crossbow that shoots flaming arrows, or even marshmallows for that matter, but it was a gift given with purpose and careful thought. Even if it would have stayed in quarantine, I still would have preferred the journal to a generic gift that I gave without any thought. Aunt Edna was right—it really is the thought that counts.
This intentionality not only guides me through my shopping, but it also allows me to focus on the other thing that’s intertwined with the most wonderful time of the year—relationships. The time spent thinking about my friends and family tunes my heart and mind toward those I love. It makes me a better friend, even if I never log onto Amazon and purchase a gift of any kind.
The more deaf we become to the frantic cries of our greedy culture, the sharper our ears become to the pulse and rhythm of our relationships.
When we give gifts with intention we’re giving far more than a present, we’re being present in our relationship. We’re giving ourselves. And that’s the best gift we could ever give, anyway.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Andy Vaughn
Apprentice Editor: Guenevere Neufeld / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Wiki Commons