On this Black Friday, I wanted to offer up a bit of perspective.
Gifts Are Not The Point Of The Season
We live in a commerical society. The holidays have been coopted from a time when we love and care for our fellow (wo)man to a time when we spend ourselves ragged and hope we can catch up next year. This year, I wanted to remind you that the gift are not the point of the season. Sure, our economy could use the boost of a good holiday purchase binge, but is it really going to offer you and yours happiness in the coming year? Or would having a bit of a financial cushion actually offer more peace of mind?
Forced Gift Giving
I don't participate in what I refer to as "forced gift giving". Having been subjected to years and years of catalog presents that my mother bought just so that I could "have something to open", I have discovered that it isn't the number of gifts one gets, it's the quality of the connection that we have. Even my boyfriend and I don't exchange gifts at the holidays or on birthdays. We give gifts when we truly feel called to give them and that usually makes them "Tuesday presents" - gifts offered for the joy of giving that thing that just wouldn't let you leave without getting it for someone in particular.
Every year, I have to take my new friends aside and explain this idea to them so that we don't end up in the odd "should I or shouldn't I" thing around gifts. I tell them that I don't do forced gift giving and that therefore they shouldn't expect to receive anything from me and I won't expect anything from them. Most are visibly relieved at having one less person to buy for. Those rare few who truly enjoy the process and are visibly disappointed I assure that if they feel like they really want to get me something they can, but no to expect me to go shopping - I flat out refuse to go into a mall between a week before Thanksgiving and a week after Christmas.
Instead of Presents this Year Offer Presence
Instead, I offer the gift of my presence. Because I am not frantically running around trying to find "the perfect gift" or any stupid gift that will do, I am not stressed out. Because I don't have gifts to wrap and packages to ship and crowds to fight, I have peace of mind. It's that simple. So when someone calls stressed out from the holidays, I offer to go out for coffee or sit and chat for a bit to allow them time to wind down. I give them the present of my presence when they need it. If I were out pounding the pavement looking for gifts, I'd never have the time and/or calm to be able to do this.
Reduce Your Holiday Purchase List
So here's my suggestion to you on this Black Friday. Call five of your closest friends with whom you usually exchange gifts. Offer to put a moratorium on gift giving this year. Take them off the hook and let yourself off the hook at the same time. It's that simple.
Breathe. It's good. I highly recommend it.