We are on the road again, traveling around visiting family and friends in our beautiful home state. It's been wonderful to dine in our favorite restaurants, play in the mounds of snow, and linger in familiar surroundings.
One mistake my better half and I did make yesterday was to go to Walmart. Yes, 4 days before Christmas and we were standing in line at one of the biggest retailers in the country.
We were bombarded with SALES, and boxes full of toys, and lines, and blaring Christmas music. Some sections of the store looked like they had been ransacked.
While waiting in line for what seemed like hours, I started to really notice the people around us. They were pretty cheerful, considering. Carts loaded with gifts (I assumed) and groceries for the upcoming holidays. I started to feel flattered at everyones generosity and kindness for the receivers of the items in their buggy.
Right now times are hard for everyone, but with the holidays you see how people do whatever it takes to show someone they care. Here is a great description from Thomas Hine's "I want that: How we all became shoppers":
"The impulse to spend seizes everyone. He who the whole year has taken pleasure in saving becomes suddenly extravagant. People are not only more generous towards themselves but also towards their fellow man. A stream of presents pours itself out on all sides."
Don't you see that everyday if you've braved the retail stores in the last week? Or better yet, don't you see it at the end of October when stores start putting out their Christmas displays? Something about this season is magical. It makes people think about others, rather than themselves. It makes people put their relationships first, doing that by giving a gift.
"Christmas represents continuity and kinship but overwhelmed by materialism assigns an economic value to every relationship. Christmas presents keep people thinking about one another…a present is a tangible sign we are doing so."
That is our society in a nutshell. But what if we did things differently? What if we used our giving to show love, but in a deeper sense of the word. Like taking your friend out to lunch and really listening to what is going on in their life. Or fixing dinner for your family, so you can share a meal at the table together. Or giving to a charity this year in honor of someone, rather than getting them a material object.
Love really does equal giving. But giving doesn't have to be defined by what our societies definition. Giving doesn't have to mean materialism. You could give your time, energy, or gifts.
What are some creative ways you are going to give this season?