The above picture really makes you think, right?
I was planning on writing a post close to Christmas with some of my concerns about this holiday and where we as society are taking it. I have a number of concerns but when I saw this picture I determined I’d write about one of the biggest opportunities I think we have.
I personally have struggled the last couple of years with one big “tradition” of Christmas.
It’s a great concept. You give someone something they have wanted or needed in the past year. They’re excited and you will likely get something in return you also wanted or needed.
I’m like anyone else. I love to get a gift. But what makes a gift so special is that it’s unexpected. You don’t get it at a time you expect. You don’t get a gift you expect. The person who gave you the gift either saw something and thought of you or even made something because they thought you would enjoy it.
But like the picture above, our society has sadly come to a place where our “wants” are getting confused with our “needs.” If you need a firsthand experience, feel free to drop by any Wal-Mart on Thanksgiving night.
Gift giving is a smaller issue when looked at in your family alone, but think about our society and the generations coming up. We are literally teaching our children that more is better and materialism adds value to their lives. We’re teaching them that if they don’t get one thing they asked for then Christmas was a failure this year. I guess there’s always next year.
By falling victim to the mentality that we need to give a certain amount of gifts we also fall victim to the expectation that we ourselves will receive a certain amount. Most of which we do not need. Most of which are things we probably just want and wouldn’t even spend our own money on.
I think it’s time to start looking at what and who we’re really getting gifts for. Are you adding value to someone’s life? Are you helping those who are truly in need and don’t just want?
For what is supposed to be the happiest time of year, I suggest we start making it that way once again. I think we all know that there is no better way to feel good about yourself than to help someone in need. We all know how good it feels to give a genuine gift.
My biggest challenge to you is to start evaluating how you spend this time of year all around. Find the things that you enjoy and vice versa. De-stress Christmas.
Make suggestions and then make changes.
It may be too late to make any real changes this season but at least put a bug in someone’s ear.
As I said earlier though, one of the biggest opportunities our society has this time of year is the idea of gift giving.
The way I see it, when it comes to gift giving, there are only two options:
- Don’t get anything for anyone. Take your money, time, resources and go out there and put them to use for someone really in need. (i.e. homeless shelter, humane society, etc.)
- Buy gifts, but buy gifts that make a difference. The gift should add value directly to the receiver’s life and/or someone else’s.
Option 1 is fairly straight forward, but option 2 can be a wide variety of things. I’ve given some examples below to help you get started.
Again, I know with Christmas being less than a week away most of you have already purchased gifts. But I encourage you to still think of these options for next year and any other time you’d be buying someone a gift.
Gifts that make a difference:
- Give them a high quality product that will last for a long time. Gifts that last longer are more enjoyable. Our consumerist society today is pumping out tons of product that is built to only last a few months in hopes we come back and buy more. An example of a company who makes great quality product and stands behind it is Patagonia.
- Give them a gift that gives back to someone else in need as well. As a consumer, this is the one I enjoy the most. I can go out there and buy a product and feel good that I am helping someone else out in need while also enjoying something I needed. Some great examples would be Toms Shoes and Krochet Kids International.
- Similar to option 1 up above, you can give money to invest in someone who needs it. This is an awesome concept. Not only does the receiver feel good about helping someone in need financially but they likely get a return on their money and can invest multiple times. Check out Kiva for a great example.
This Christmas, take a good look at what you feel. Don’t take anything for granted and realize what a blessing you have. And remember that the whole point of this holiday is to celebrate and give back. Let’s fix this flawed Christmas story.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on gift giving as well. Please leave a short comment below if you have any other suggestions or ideas.
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