I love the holidays. I love anything that brings people together and nurtures connection with each other. Unfortunately, a by-product of all this connection is the much dreaded gift exchanges and holiday purchases that sometimes overshadow the spirit of the season. This post is created in the spirit of including some presence in the presents of the season. 🙂
Here’s the deal. The best presents for people are rarely advertised on the front of a store ad. There are not “limited quantities” of an honest expression of love and gratitude. Yes, you can put objects in a package and tie a pretty bow around them, but when you are truly celebrating another person it is less like a chore and more like an opportunity. An opportunity to express yourself and the meaning of your relationship and an opportunity to engage in a delightful experience of kindness.
The catch is that it may take more than a few minutes of late night online shopping to find a true reflection of all these things. This is where the idea of presence comes in. I’m not suggesting you spend hours in meditation to figure out the perfect gift. But maybe spend a few minutes figuring out what each person likes, what words represent their personality, what activities do they enjoy, or what dream have they ever expressed to you? Sometimes if you can just write down the person’s name and jot down the first 6-10 descriptors that come to mind when you think of that person…it could be helpful in you figuring out something that would truly celebrate who they are.
Another exploration of your presence is to reflect on something that you really want to share with people this holiday season. What has inspired you lately? What has made your heart sing? Is there a way to share that with the people in your life?
Consider this an invitation for all of us to include a sense of presence for the presents we all buy/make and distribute this year. This comes naturally to some people and not so naturally for others. If you are needing a little inspiration to get your creative ideas flowing consider these strategies to incorporate presence this season:
-Gift an experience instead of just a ‘thing’. This could be in the form of movie passes, a coupon for a painting class or workshop, or tickets to a musical concert. Depending on the experience, maybe you can even share the experience with them!
-Gift positivity. Create affirmations for your friends. There are a ton of sites that include affirmations for all sorts of categories ranging from love, friendships, workplace, and spirituality.
-Gift inspiration (in the form of famous quotes, calendars, or photography). Take your own photo and frame it or type up your favorite quote on cardstock.
-Gift music. Burn a CD with your favorite songs from this year or something they may not normally listen to.
-Gift gratitude. Make a gratitude jar/container. Label it and create a starter kit for them. If you are feeling particularly grateful, include notes of gratitude from you to them and place them in the jar for them to read later.
-Gift silly. Create coupons for ‘night off from cooking/cleaning the kitchen.’ or “all day pass to watch sports on tv without complaint.’
-Gift practical. If you know someone writes a lot, gift them notebooks and pens. If you know someone who drinks tea every day, pick up a variety pack of flavors for them.
-Gift connection. If you are missing someone, gift them cards with envelopes and stamps so you can stay connected.
-Gift your gifts. If you make the best oatmeal raisin cookies ever…gift them to people along with your secret recipe. This works for any food item that is your claim to fame. 🙂 Include an uplifting movie and you have a family gift ready to share.
Whatever you do….make it fun. Make it goofy. Make it real. And make it personal. Those are the things that make it meaningful. Not only do I believe that is the true spirit of the holidays, but I believe it is the core of our spirit each and every day.
Wishing you peace, love, and good health this holiday season.