December 23rd, 2014
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, whatever it is that you celebrate, or that you don’t celebrate, I am writing to wish you well this season.
I always struggle with the season. Besides the fact that we are bombarded with advertising from every angle, I think there is a deeper disease that is actually a cultural and traditional one. The advertising doesn’t have to tell us to buy something for someone. To buy a gift. That is already assumed. The advertising just says, “buy your gifts from US.” It is already assumed that you are buying a gift.
Where did we learn that we have to buy gifts?
You may have grown up learning about Santa Claus, a character that comes and gives you gifts if you behave well enough. You may have grown up expecting to receive gifts on Christmas from your parents, friends and family. We grew up with this.
There are people who grow up learning how to hate others. Does that make it right? Obviously not. So let’s not assume that what we grew up with is the right way to live. Let’s examine ourselves thoroughly, taking responsibility for our thoughts and actions and ways, and act with strength, to do what’s right.
“It’s a frenzy out there, we are all aware,
and yet it’s outside we go.” Wiyezgyei
What is a gift? A gift is something given freely, with love, without expectation of repayment.
It’s funny how some people LOVE buying gifts for others. Then, some of us are doing it because if someone gives you a “gift”, and you don’t get them anything, it feels really awkward and weird. And for some of us, it’s a combination of both, along with messages from advertising, and obligations from how we grew up.
So everyone just makes a list of everyone that they’re pretty sure are going to buy them something, and they mentally put a price mark next to each person depending on how much they bought you last year, and then we all run out and buy “gifts” for everyone!
Most of us know who bought us gifts last year. And we know how much they were worth. so we try to match it up and buy them a gift of the same value. Big news: That’s called a “gift-exchange”! That’s not giving! And they are NOT gifts, because you are expecting a gift back. Yet, that’s what we are all doing, all in the name of Christmas Giving.
In reality, if you spent $50 per person, x 20 people on your list, that’s $1,000. Now, knowing that most of those people are buying you things, you basically are going on a $1,000 shopping spree for yourself! You know that you’re going to get it back, so it’s the same thing. It’s a transaction.
Why Is It All So Stressful?
Giving is not stressful. Giving is loving. It feels good. It feels right. The problem is that this big gift-exchange is NOT giving! It’s just spending a bunch of money, and spending is what creates that financial strain, the stress. If you actually give true gifts, like some of the ways I listed below, there is NO stress at all associated with it. Because it is true giving.
Companies Win, We Lose
Corporations LOVE this. In our previous example, you and 20 other people are spending $1000 each! The amount of money spent is unimaginable!
Meanwhile, $1000 is a very conservative estimate. Most people don’t have a budget. And while you’re out, you drink Starbucks, eat pretzels, eat fast food, go to dinner- might as well, you’re already out! Usually it’s all on the credit card, of course. So Christmas spending becomes staggering, and people can spend thousands of dollars very easily, without even knowing (because they don’t budget it and they use credit cards.) I know friends that are still paying off credit cards from other Christmases.
On top of that, the financial stress, the being out, the coffee and the fast food, makes everyone sick. Come visit my urgent care or any emergency room if you don’t believe it. And it’s not because of the flu.
I’ll Buy It Myself
If I am not willing to spend money to buy something for myself, why should you go and spend that money for me? And if I don’t like it, and there’s no gift receipt… now it was a waste. And if there is a gift receipt, now I need to go and shop there… the point is that if I want something, I’ll go buy it. If I can’t afford it, there can be a discussion. But most of the time, we are buying for people who CAN afford to buy for themselves, because they are probably buying you a “gift” that is about the same price. Again, a big exchange.
Remember the Light
Before we go deeper into true giving, we must first start by celebrating the Light. The Light of Love, that is in Every One, including You. The first celebration is a celebration of Light and Love. Giving your family and everyone around you Love, Honesty, Compassion, a Hug- this is the first giving, and the first celebration.
So What IS Giving?
We need to rethink our ideas about giving and buying gifts. Let’s not just curse the whole thing and give up. Let’s really start to think about others in need, and focus on giving to THEM. Giving to those who actually need it, who can NOT afford to take care of themselves. Remember, true giving is when we give lovingly, without any expectation of getting something in return. If they could afford it for themselves, then you are just spending money on stuff.
Some Giving Ideas
Is there someone in the family that is truly in need, financially, emotionally, or otherwise?
Maybe you can give them some money or needed supplies, groceries or necessities. Maybe you can visit and spend some time with them, let them talk, giving them a listening ear, some compassion and some empathy.
I know that many people miss their lost loved ones during the holidays. We can give to them by giving them some compassion and love. Maybe invite them over your home for a family dinner. Visit them. Acknowlege their suffering and give them a hug. Let them talk about it.
Losing loved ones makes us want to spend time with our families and with the ones that we love most. I think that’s a beautiful thing, and a good reminder for us to stop and pay attention to those who are most important to us in our lives. We are so entrenched in our work, in our distractions, in having things, even in buying things for people. Let the season remind you instead to focus on being happy NOW, WITH the people you love.
What is your spiritual discipline?
Do you have a church? What organizations help you on your spiritual path? If you have none, find one. Email me, I’ll help you. If you do have a church or spiritual community, find ways to give. Give your hard earned money to help them. Give your time, your service, your talents, your skills. Spiritual leadership costs time and money, and doesn’t happen by itself. They need your support. Give.
I spoke to a woman on the phone the other day that couldn’t afford to buy food for her family. Yes in the United States. There are people hungry here at home, and in other countries. I’m sure you can find someone to help if you do a little digging. Talk to friends and family, make it personal. It doesn’t have to be some big organization. And again, it could be money or groceries that you are giving.
The sick and their families.
Again, if you put a little time talking to people and asking questions, you’ll find plenty who are in need of basic health supplies. Even clean drinking water. Get out there and help people feel better. I know many families with a loved one with cancer who can’t afford the treatments. They do fundraisers on facebook. Find them and give.
I know that my family is able to take care of themselves financially. I hope that yours is also. So instead of buying things for each other, we need to think about giving differently. It could be organizing ourselves to creatively give to those in need. But I think the simple answer is to simply spend quality time together, and be willing to give of our emotions, honesty, love, laughter, and joy. Be willing to confess your love to each other, to apologize, and to forgive. (FORGIVE- FOR GIVE)
Visit senior living centers, assisted living homes, Alzheimer’s centers, etc, and give your time. Bring a deck of cards. Even call beforehand and ask for some ideas about what you could bring. Letting them talk and being an awesome listener may be the most beautiful gift that you can give.
Other charitable organizations.
The key here is to really ask yourself who you want to help. Then, do some research. Start with google, make phone calls, see where the money gets spent, etc. Be smart about giving. But give.
Seems tough, huh?
It’s a lot easier to give someone a present than to give to those in need.
And that should signal us to the truth of what’s happening. Take the challenge.
And with all of these ideas about giving, now you can really think about bringing the season of light and love with you, year round. Why wait for Christmas to celebrate the Light and to give?
This season, if you are not in need, celebrate the love and the joy and the light, and magnify THAT. Focus on the beauty of Love within, and give of yourself in loving relationship to those who are around you. Instead of a big gift-exchange, give your heart, a Heart of Love. And if you still want to give more, use the ideas I listed above to give to those in need.
My Gift To You
Today, my gift to you is to set you free from the idea and obligation to buy a bunch of presents for everyone. Be free of it now. Be free of it forever. Talk about it with your loved ones, share this page with them, and post your questions and comments below. I read them all.
Dr. Moses. 🙂
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