There’s a lot of talk lately about cutting gifts out of the Xmas equation or minimizing that to the kids. Ahhhhh, huge sigh of relief; another chore ticked off our gigantic Xmas-list with the added benefit of lots of saved money. REALLY???
Does that truly make you feel happy inside? Or isn’t there a slight feeling of missing out, of deprivation? I sure hope so!
Cutting out the sacred act of gifting is cutting ourselves off from the natural flow of abundance. There’s a reason that gifts have been exchanged among friends and family for millennia. Yes, as far back as the Babylonian times people knew this to be true.
Giving and receiving a gift is one of the most fulfilling experiences a human being can have and yet it has become this distorted, forced thing that we don’t really know how to handle. I hear talk of obligation, of false expectations of cost; and ,especially around this time of the year, it has become a chore for most of us. Since this is such an important topic which is highlighted during the Xmas season and often explodes into a massive firework of burnt through credit cards and an empty purse topped with a thick cream of guilt and frustration.
I have dedicated a whole chapter in the “Super Sensitive’s Guide for a Stress Free Xmas Season” to shine a light and provide a new perspective and some helpful tips around this delicate subject.
So, all in the spirit of giving I’d like to share the chapter: “Gifts: The Art of Giving & Receiving” from the Magazine with you today. Enjoy! (Oh, you will find terms like: XTM – Xmas Treasure Map -, Xmas values and Xmas Fairy Headquarters etc., things we dive into deeply in the Guide, so they are not explained separately here; but you can get your own copy at the Shop.)
Ok, here we go:
“Gifts have apparently been exchanged amongst people since the Babylonian times and the Romans really cultivated this during their Saturnian celebrations which were somewhat the equivalent to our Christmas.
Sadly, the act of exchanging gifts during the Xmas season has been distorted by consume, media and social expectations. It has become a chore and obligation, a race of comparison, a question of price and prestige and for many a financial strain that leaves a gaping hole come New Year. So why is this? What is going wrong here? Why is the influence of the media so strong? Why is it that grown men and women fall into this trap year after year?
Let‘s look at it from the energetic standpoint of giving and receiving, what that means and how it effects you. The Law of Polarity, which is a universal law, states that everything has two sides. The yin and yang symbol illustrates this concept perfectly which says that each side already contains the seed of the other within itself. Meaning, there is no giving without receiving and no receiving without giving. It is just not possible!
Now especially we as women and specifically we as Super Sensitives try to bend this law by playing the martyr and proudly proclaiming that it‘s all about giving. Then we feel overlooked and sulk if there are not standing ovations of gratitude coming our way. Well dear one, you have bought into a millennia old lie and concept deliberately instilled in women for generations. And it has to stop! Like right now.
We need to master the art of receiving to be able to give freely, without remorse, regret, guilt, expectations or whatever else throws its ugly shadow on our giving.
When is giving or receiving a joyful experience then? Well it‘s actually quite simple. It‘s when the energies are balanced. Or in other words when what goes out matches what comes in. The actual money part, though important, is just one part of this equation. It is more the holistic way of being that needs to be taken into consideration. What do I mean by this? Let me ask you a question.
Did you ever receive a gift that you know was bought with credit or was way over the means of the giver? How did that make you feel? Doesn‘t it leave a bad taste and take all the joy out of the gift even if it was the „perfect“ gift? Didn‘t you almost feel guilty for accepting it?
The same mechanism is at work if you are the one overspending, making gifts that are way out of proportion to your bank account and your relationship with the person. Yes, this is an issue that needs to be addressed, as well. Sometimes we give out of obligation or worse yet shame. We are afraid of being judged by the size of our gift. We don’t want to appear stingy or cheap or that we can’t afford it, so we exaggerate, even though our inner voice is telling us to reconsider.
This is especially dangerous if our family or friends are financially better situated than we are. With that being said, I do want to encourage not to judge a persons financial situation by its appearance! Often it’s not what it appears to be. And having a higher credit limit does not make for a wealthier person.
Some other authors advise to cut back on gifts or leave them by the side altogether. They then try to make this sound appealing by talking about simplifying or living a zen like lifestyle. This is totally ok if that is what you truly desire. Especially if you are someone that loves to give presents you will not be happy with this approach. And quite frankly for me Xmas would not be complete without some prettily wrapped gifts beneath the tree.
I know it’s become quite popular to reduce the gifting part to the kids only. Really? Why do I have to deprive myself of a wonderful ritual? I would much rather create a strategy that truly reflects my desire and who I am and honors my budget. This approach calls for a commitment in time, energy and money. It gets my creative juices flowing and replaces mindless gift hunting, which in that case is more a chore than a genuine desire anyway.
I for one truly love the act of coming up with the “perfect” gift for my special people and gladly put my time and energy into this process. And don’t get me started on the wrapping! I love to wrap presents. But more on that later.
In my opinion where we trip ourselves up is in the definition of the perfect gift. Perfect does not equal expensive! It doesn’t even equal spending any money at all. We will get to that soon. And perfect doesn’t equal multiple gifts either. Do our sons and daughters really need or even want a pile of presents? Have you ever noticed how they just rip the wrapping off, glance at it and move on to the next one and the next one until they are done? This really saddens me and does not help instill the true value of giving in our offspring. Quite the opposiste holds true; it nurtures greed and the never ending strive for more, better and greater. And yes, I made those mistakes in the early years of parenting myself. If you catch yourself doing that, don’t beat yourself up. Just don’t do it anymore. Find other ways. Talk to your partner, family and children.
Anns‘ practice – which you can read about right after the next section - illustrates beautifully what it means to honor one‘s Xmas values while not depriving oneself of the pleasure of giving and receiving gifts. It‘s a testament to mindfulness, compassion and community, keeping a clear focus on the ones less fortunate while enjoying the pleasure of special littelties with meaning.
Now it‘s time to create your specific gifting strategy. So get ready to do some work.
- My Why: Take a look at your Xmas values and golden rules and ask yourself how they fit your gifting situation. Are you on track or is there a disconnect?
- Why do you want to make presents to others?
- Whom do you want to include in your gifting circle? Just close family? Friends? Clients & Customers? Service providers? Hostess gifts? Charity? Yourself? (Yes, you are allowed to gift yourself! Isn‘t that good news?)
- How much do you want to spend on gifts? On each person?
- When do you want to have the gift exchange? As much as I love presents, I find it kind of off to receive or give a Xmas gift two months later. So I make plans for meet-ups with friends or I consider sending them in the mail.
- And then there‘s the big question of What?
Tips for a lovely gift experience:
- Create a gift theme: Why not choose a different theme each year? This makes shopping way easier and you don‘t have to fear giving someone the same thing twice.
- Themes could be: Warmth: Candles, socks, scarfs, tea, mug
- Creativity: Pencils & art supplies, journals, books
- Color: Choose a color theme and choose gifts in that particular colorGift wrapping: Create a ritual around the process and make it a really precious task: I love to wrap my gifts in one or two sessions. This is a time I don‘t want to be disturbed, so I retreat to my Xmas Fairy Headquarters. I play my favorite music and arm myself with a cup of tea or a lovely glass of wine. Personally I love to „work“ having all my treasures spread out around me. I check each item to make sure nothing is broken, reconnect in my mind and heart to the person it is intended for and choose my wrapping. I love to bless my gifts and infuse them with love. This is what works for me. Find your own way. Experiment.
- Employ your kids or get the gifts wrapped at the store. Or it might make it easier for you to wrap them immediately.
- Plan in some extra gifts for spontaneous guests or invitations: chocolate boxes or specialities from your neighborhood and little books make great gifts
- Stock supplies: Paper, bags, gift tags, ribbons, tape, glue, decorations
- Make your own gift tags from old Xmas cards.
- And for your sanity, shop online or locally and avoid big malls and the rush and high activity hours.
- Keep your receipts in case of needing to exchange or return gifts. Your XTM is a great place to store them.”