Gifts are great – who doesn’t love a gift? A carefully chosen, wonderfully relevant, beautifully wrapped, given with love knock-em-dead gift? But when the need to give or receive gifts overshadows everything that the very act of gift giving is meant to be about, and the whole meaning behind the gift gets forgotten, the physical thing of the gift loses all meaning.
Remove the love, the care and the thoughtfulness from a gift, and you’re pretty much left with rampant consumerism and marketing forces made real. Add in the opportunity cost of what it took to get the gift (an afternoon spent pushing through the crowds shopping instead of spent with friends; a day’s extra work when you could have spent it on me-time, or with your children or partner; exceeding your overdraft limit or maxing out your credit card – and it all becomes a little bit more crazed, when you sit back and look at it.
And presents can never be a substitute for presence, whatever the admen may like us to believe.
With two days to go, and the last piece of paid work delivered, and a mound of Christmas prep still to do, I’m going to give myself a gift – to put a halt to any self-influcted mission creep madness and do the things that really matter. That means cancelling the extra shopping to have Christmas Eve kids lunch with friends; it means not worrying if the wrapping is a little wonky; it means letting go of usual rules re bedtime, healthy eating and tidying the house – which all adds up to presence – just being with each other, and not doing things in the same space as each other.
Happy hang out Christmas, here’s to doing a lot less and enjoying it a lot more!