Thursday, December 19, 2013

365 Inspirations—353: Real Gifts

"Being present with family and friends is the best gift we can offer."—Katherine Jenkins

Today I spent time in my office cleaning and wrapping gifts for my family for the holidays. I like shopping and wrapping things for other people, but I'm thinking I'd like to do something different in 2014.

Instead of gifts, I'd like to offer a meal, a day at the movies, time together at the spa or maybe even the gift of babysitting so that my friends or family can have a night off.

Instead of exchanging material possessions, I'd like to exchange time.

Because we all know that no one has enough time and it's just easier to buy a gift, but 2014 is going to be about spending more *time* doing things....slowly....particularly with the people I care about.

If I'm going to give a gift, I'd like it to be a service I can offer or something I can make that is useful.

I want to cut out clutter, get rid of material things...I'm not sure I'm ready to become a minimalist, but I want to work towards paring down my possessions to the things I really use and need.

This year, I will be at a silent meditation course over Christmas, so we are celebrating early.

My immediate family is coming over to my house and I'm going to make a home-cooked meal. I'm excited about that.

I started thinking about gifts in another way. Each one of us has a gift or gifts that make us unique and these are things we can offer—to ourselves, to the world and to others.

Maybe you can write, or do art or you are good at math. Maybe you like to hoola hoop, do yoga, juggle, paint, organize, take photographs.

These are you real "gifts" and this is what you can offer the world.

And someone else probably has something to offer you too. We can exchange and share like this. My husband Yoon is very good at collaborating with others. When he doesn't know how to do something, he finds a person with that *gift* and offers his gift of teaching yoga in exchange.

He's had his car repaired, accounting taken care of, house repaired, fence built, pants hemmed all for the exchange of his *gift* of yoga.

Long ago, this is how the world operated. People exchanged services or materials, people spent time making things for each other. Holidays were about coming together and sharing and offering whatever you had on hand.

Holidays weren't about going out shopping all night and buying lots of stuff.

I still enjoy buying gifts for my family and wrapping them carefully in pretty paper, but next year I'd like to start a few new traditions. I'd like to just "be present" with family and friends, after all, that is really the best gift I have to offer.

What do think about the materialism of the holidays? Have you ever tried to offer something other than store-bought gifts?

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