The Holidays are here once again–Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year–it is the time to relax, enjoy time with the ones you love, and smile at how blessed you are… Or is it?
We’re at material overload and it isn’t fun like it looks in the commercials. We live in a society where families are chronically stressed, tired, and rushed, with our excessive possessions compounding (if not creating) the problems. ~ Joshua Becker, Becoming Minimalist
Indeed. For many people, the holidays represent their life in a nutshell: impossible to-do lists, crowded schedules, meaningless and empty relationships (and gift-giving). Black Friday is the personification if insane consumption taken to the next level, the unsatisfactory pursue of yet another unnecessary thing. Our homes become little landfills as clutter, toys, and furniture fill our rooms without us even enjoying them…
What is even worse, real landfills out there are becoming more and more of a problem for the air we breath, the earth we inhabit–the only planet we can live on. The waste human beings are producing is one of the biggest present and future environmental problems. This should concern us, because it will impact our children and grandchildren!
If you are one of those amazing people who is stirred by the impact you cause, keep reading!
Holiday (and Year-Round!) Gifting
- Conscientious Gift-Giving: Things and toys are overrated. Why not choosing giving experiences over things? Maybe your family and friends would gladly receive a membership to a Gym, a Zoo or a Park, depending on their ages and preferences. Invest time in the year to learn about the people to whom you will give–Do you know which is their current obsession–painting, music, dance, a genre of books, travelling? If so, you could give a gift that will contribute to that passion, by paying for classes, paying for trip, giving an Amazon gift card, etc. I came across some great ideas of gifts when reading a blog post from Lore Wilbert:
The gift of flowers or a plant.
A note in the mail or under my office door.
An offer to drop a meal off at my house.
A drive out of the cities and into the mountains or country together.
Someone who simply listened, who wept when I did.
A good, long hug.
An envelope full of cards, gift-cards, and money.
- Know Your Gifts: Pay attention to where your gifts are coming from. China, Pakistan, India and other countries involve slave workforce! Are you sure you want to support slavery? Stay clear from big stores with products with such an origin (Walmart, for starters) and opt for gifts made locally, either in your own community (check local art galleries, or local stores or fair trade boutiques) or in the USA (check this list of 50 products made in the USA). Alternatively, buy from non-profit organizations whose profits will benefit poor communities in developing or third-world countries. Researching options is so worth while!
- Re-gift: You read that right! Whatever gift you won’t enjoy fully, or for which you have no purpose, save with a tag from whom it came (so you won’t give it to the person who gave it to you), and give it next year to someone who will truly enjoy it or have a better use for it. There is no shame in giving your gift a place where it will be enjoyed! You can always give gifts to a charity as well.
- Re-use: A vintage decoration item, an antique piece of furniture, or any one-of-a-kind piece that stands out is the perfect gift for those who love history, or just old-time pieces.
- Make it: Thankfully, thanks to Google and Youtube you no longer need to be an expert in order to make something with your hands. Follow instructions and create a meaningful gift–take a chance and bake those cookies, knit a hat, create a decorative item, and have the children in your family write and send cards.
- Recycle: As a last resort, recycle paper, cardboard, plastic and glass in the gifts you receive, especially those which you are unable to use or repurpose.
A last word: Get to know the people to whom you will give! Avoid giving just for the sake of giving. Make it fun, but above all, honor God through your giving!
Excess possessions do not bring extra happiness into life; even worse, they distract us from the things that do! ~ Joshua Becker