I’m very aware that I write this in the biggest consumer consumption season of the year and really, it feels like the perfect time to talk about it.
It’s at this time of year that many people the world over are bled dry financially by companies through the use of emotion spiking advertising. We’ve somehow allowed ourselves to be socially conditioned to the point where we deem spending lots of money on stuff people don’t need and worrying ourselves to death about what people will think if I don’t buy xyz the right present as normal.
I mean I’ve seen people spend crazy amounts of money and worry about getting the perfect present for a two year old! As if a two year old even knows what is going on — I’ve seen more of them interested and entertained by torn up wrapping paper than any present.
There is another approach, a better approach
The core theme of the seasonal period in my opinion has always been to give thanks, appreciate what you have and reflect on the year that has just been. However, I like you for a long time have fallen prey to the notion that I must buy materialistic objects of expensive value in order to show and validate that thanks to others and of course this couldn’t be further from the truth.
In the last few years I’ve become more aware of the minimalism movement and the message behind it, which promotes less is more and to live a meaningful life with what you have. Now let’s not get this twisted, I am not one of those people who labels themselves a ‘minimalist’. I don’t believe in labels as we are all just humans with multiple interests.
The minimalism movement like the workings of stoicism has some valuable lessons to share with us on valuing what we have now and what we can offer others too. One of those core lessons is around using things and not people, valuing the time with those around you and not the superficial feelings from an object.
Even Drake said that he wishes we would learn to love people and use things and not the other way around.
The gift that can keep on giving
I’m sure we all look for that one gift that can bring the ultimate amount of joy and keep providing great times for your loved ones and guess what? You have access to provide that each and every year, because that gift is you.
Now I know that sounds corny, like a line from some Hollywood film, yet it’s true. The greatest gift you can ever give people is yourself, your time and your love as these are the most precious resources we possess and can share with others. If you find yourself in the position where this isn’t enough for those around you, then I would suggest you look reflect on the people you surround yourself with.
This time of year should be focused on spending quality time with those that matter the most to you and building new experiences that can last a lifetime. It should most certainly not be putting you into a panic, running around stores to partake in a consumerist thirst of spending the most money to impress whoever with the present you feel is going make them happy beyond what words can describe. I have a horrible newsflash for you if you are doing this — you will never find the thing you or others seek in those places.
It’s not all about presents, it’s about being present
Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy gifts for those that mean the most to you. I find great value and joy in buying books to share with loved ones in the hope that the content across those page will help them as they’ve helped me. This is a somewhat process of gifting with intent or in other words gifting something that you feel the person could find great value in — this is not a branded piece of clothing which will be deemed uncool in 2 months time.
The best present you can give to anyone this year is just being present for them, show up when they need you, be there to chat, eat together and laugh at cringey Christmas movies. Being present is difficult for so many of us in this busy, notification driven, cortisol filled way of life and this time of year is the perfect opportunity to bring yourself back in to the here and now.
I’ll finish this out with a quote from yet another cheesy seasonal tune, maybe all people really want for Christmas is you and that’s all they should want really, not just another material object.
Never forget, the greatest gift that you can give anyone is your time and your love.
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