Christmas décor is going up in our local stores this week, before we’ve even had time for some annual gratitude and Thanksgiving. I am simultaneously having feelings of dismay, and urges to begin consuming and shopping for my favorite holiday of the year.
I firmly believe Christmas decorations in stores signal a Pavlovian response in our society and as individuals. Christmas décor in stores=shopping. Symbols surrounding the holidays like Christmas trees, garland, nativity scenes, stockings and more, originally meant as symbols of love and sacrifice, now drive us to start thinking about buying gifts for people, and thoughts become actions.
The earlier they put up the displays, the sooner we start buying and will likely purchase more in two or three month’s time than if they put the displays out after Thanksgiving, giving us barely a month to consume, consume, consume.
With all this being said, I will admit right now that I am a gift-giver. I love making people smile and feel special by giving just the right gift. However, giving just the ‘right gift’, takes intentional planning and thought and paying attention to your loved ones, something that doesn’t happen overnight, or just because certain decorations have been put up.
More often than not, the ‘right gift’ is also pretty simple, and most times inexpensive as well.
Gift giving for me is an ongoing process as I make note of what Mom is spending time doing lately, or any little something she has ‘wished’ that she had. I’ll jot these things down, and revisit them later.
If a family member is beginning a new hobby or picking an old one back up, I’ll be sure to record that in my little book, as well as make notes like when one of my sisters mentioned that she has been collecting pitchers for years, something I wasn’t aware of. I do this all year, anytime something comes up someone mentions, so I always have my little book of intentional gift ideas.
The key with thoughtful and intentional gift giving is to build and maintain your relationships. Talk to the people you love. What are they doing, what are they interested in? It is so easy to let each day pass without having meaningful conversations, I do it all too often myself, but each day is a new gift and provides the opportunity for us to connect again with those we love.
This year, don’t take the easy way out and make a ‘Christmas List’ for each person. Take an evening, or a few, and make an ‘Interest List’. See if you can answer these questions for each person you’d like to purchase a gift for.
If they had all the free time in the world, what would they choose to do?
If they did not have access to any electronic or digital device, what would they spend their time doing?
What is their favorite food?
When they leave the house, what are they most likely doing? Is it something they enjoy?
Do they have a hobby?
What strengths do they have as an individual?
Do they have any ‘wishes’ you’ve noticed?
The list of questions could be even longer and more detailed, but the purpose would always be to consider what they already love and enjoy. If you don’t know the answers to some of these, maybe you should find out. Perhaps the best gift in this case would be the gift of your time well spent with them.
Before you shop this year for loved ones, make sure you are intentional about what you purchase. Don’t burden them with more ‘stuff’ that won’t be used but will be kept out of obligation to you, the gift-giver. Take some time and see how well you know their interests, do they truly need anything or will they use what you get them?
Giving gifts you have intentionally considered will result in an increased feeling of love and understanding for both you and your loved one, and a more joyous Christmas season.
Sign up for email updates from me and get access to the Member Downloads Library, which includes over 20 resources plus this Christmas Planner worksheet.