Well things have been pretty busy around here with the calendars and the paintings. I am pretty used to it by now…But one thing happens to me every year and I never quite get used to it. Christmas. I am sure that I am not the only one that feels the enormous pressure of the season. I get pinched by it pretty much every year. No matter how hard I try to keep out the ads, commercials, ‘Black Friday Super Sales’, the pictures of perfect family dinners, the sales bits about people buying their wives cars for X-Mas, etc. Some of it still sneaks in. And it usually just ends up making me feel terrible. Like I will never be as great as those Christmas families. I will never be happy until I can buy up a whole Best Buy full of laptops and flat screen TVs. I will not be complete because the same big stores that tell me to buy their junk also tell me it will never be enough. And as strong as I am…..as firm as I stand on what I know to be true….that giving matters more than the gift….I get a little shaken. And I know why….These big companies spend BILLIONS of dollars to make you feel that way. They have even convinced the news that if we don’t go buy things on Black Friday that the economy will shrivel and die. None of which is true! But getting back to my point, gifting really has more to do with the act of giving than the gift. This may sound foreign. But this is one of the many lessons this lil’ project has taught me. The old axiom really is simple and true…’It’s the thought that counts.’
When you give a gift you want it to say something to the person you are giving it to. You want to create something for them. A moment that they will not easily forget. In my experience that moment is set up by your fore thought about the gift or the exchange. When you think about what that person needs….or would enjoy. You are doing most of the work. Take buying anything for them out of this equation for a minute. Now think about your gift receiver. What would they like…? Is it something you can offer them…? You answers are going to be different from mine. But mine rarely end up being a Lexus with a big stupid bow on it.
Also, think about experiences. In a few studies out there, researchers have found that people sharing experiences brought them far more joy over the years than any possessions. One of these studies that I recall reading had to do with giving 50 people 100 dollars. Half of the group was to spend the money of a gift for a loved one…an item. Any item for 100 dollars. The other half, group b, was to treat their loved ones to a fun adventure for 100 dollars. Group A bought all kinds of toys, games, gadgets, kitchen utensils, foot massagers, etc. Group B went for museum days, zoos, movies, small one night trips to hotels, roadtrips, one person even sent their loved one on a sky diving trip (thanks Groupon!). Then after one year the researchers interviewed all of the gift receivers from each group. Many of the Group A receivers no longer had the possessions that they were gifted. Some had broken, some were lost or stolen, some were just plain obsolete already. People were 45% satisfied with their gifts. Group B however was still happy about their experiences! In fact, upon thinking about their roadtrip or their movie days people smiled with almost as much joy as the day they had fun….over a year ago! Experience beats possession every time. This group surveyed that they were 98% happy about their experiences! HOW GREAT IS THAT!?
I am telling you this in order to remind you, as well as myself, that possessions come and go. Experiences create lasting memories….lasting gifts. Think about what you can do with your loved ones this year. Go hiking, play catch, be together, take them on some great adventure. These gifts mean more than big fancy gifts that you are told you must buy to create any sort of happiness. When you give a gift that you have really thought about and it is something you will share…..It pays both the giver and the receiver. And you will never lose it. I am not saying don’t buy stuff for people….Just put some real thought behind it. What will connect? Because that connection will be the thing they most remember.
Take care. Love to you all. Merry Christmas. And I will get back to my daily giving soon. I must need a break. So I am gonna see where this takes me….how it all plays out. Talk to you soon.