Service and Experience: The Best Gift You Can Give This Christmas
When I was a kid, half of Christmas was all about groggily rising in bed for the early Christmas worship service. The other half was a picture of grown-ups coming over on Christmas morning with gifts in tow for me and my younger siblings. At the end of the day, you will most likely find me happily doing an inventory of my Christmas loot. But like everything else in life, things evolve – from feelings to one’s fear of the dark to Christmas.
Now that I’m older and supposedly wiser, the advent of the Holidays means looking forward to that big fat cheque and buying something expensive for myself, as a reward year-round toils. There are also the seemingly endless shopping trips to scour for gifts for the people I hold dear – from family members to friends. Over the years, this has been my routine every time the weather gets colder while shops hang their bargain signs luring customers with their one-time Christmas deals. For this year, I resolve to do something different.
Redesigning Gift Giving Traditions
For this coming Christmas season, I will still eat out with family and friends and belt out carols at the karaoke. I will still look forward to watching reruns of my favourite Christmas films. I won’t even mind baking a huge batch of deliciously buttery banana walnut muffins the night before Christmas for family members, neighbours and friends to stash away after visiting us for the Holidays.
However, from now on, I refuse to join the frenzy and madness of Christmas shopping, settling for whatever’s available and within my budget, hurriedly wrapping them in boxes, and finally disposing of them come Christmas Day. I decided not to be a part of over-consumption of material stuff which is often associated in celebrating the Holidays.
Sharing –The Truest Sense of The Word
The decision to forego material gift giving this Christmas began when I came across The Story of Stuff project, a 20-minute cartoon documentary which followed the journey of material stuff in a consumerist world — from its production to its disposal after consumption. The short film revealed that, on a whole, only 1 percent of the products remains in use after 6 months of its purchase.
As an earning professional, gift-giving during Christmas may not be that a huge deal. I am consistently earning a sizeable income anyway. However, I have come to the realization that most of us are now focused on BUYING rather than SHARING what we already have.
Have you thought about the waste, clutter, and debts that people generate from the endless and unnecessary purchases of material presents? I reckon that one’s happiness meter is not accelerated by endlessly spending on things whose value depreciates over time.
Sharing Your Presence
From now on, I resolve to start giving the gift of service and experience.
Here are just some of the things I would like to do for a much lighter and less stressful yet meaningful Yuletide Season.
- Offer my services to friends and family. I can come over to their place and help them cook, walk the dog, wash the dishes, or babysit for them.
- Organize activities with family and friends such as cooking dinner, carolling, volunteer at local shelters for a day.
- For children, I can take them to carnival rides, help them make a Christmas scrapbook or take them to local Christmas concerts. These experiences are certainly better than plastic toys manufactured in China.
- Simply being there for someone. With almost everyone in a hurry, it could be quite difficult to find someone to talk to over a cup of coffee and not over Skype.
How about you?
Have you realized how the holiday season is a genuine wonder when we focus on giving the gift of service and experience rather than buying material possessions?
Slow down, reconsider your priorities this Christmas, and think about what is truly necessary.
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