Did you participate in Black Friday this year? I remember as my children were growing, when I dove into the holiday madness – searching for the best deal, and spending my precious mental capital on issues surrounding stuff – most of which my family and I could do without.
Like many of you, I appreciate a thoughtful gift, beautifully wrapped and given with an open heart and good intentions. This holiday season, I want to encourage you to consider thinking outside the box when gift-giving and consider the beauty of an experiential gift – one that does not have a physical form, but the positive effects of which can continue in the hearts of the receivers.
This year, I am taking my family to Sedona for Christmas. It’s a magical place where the spiritual and the mundane meet in a beautiful way. We will get to escape the cold, hike in the beautiful mountains, eat healthy food, but most importantly, we will have uninterrupted family time – something that is so precious to me especially as my kids have left the nest to live their own lives. This trip embodies many of the traits that have value to me, such as family, nature, and spirituality. I am also cognizant of the unending burden of stress we all live under – the ever-increasing pace of life, growing demands on our intellectual and emotional capacity, relentless traffic, climbing rates of illness, unhealthy food, hopeless politics, disturbing world events and many others realities of today’s experiences. In my practice, I often see clients whose whole dis-ease was triggered by both acute and chronic stress. I hope that Sedona will give me and my family the space to lower the volume – turn down the demand on our stress handling systems. I intend this trip to reinforce some of the tools I have encouraged my children to use in their lives, in weathering the increasingly demanding life we are all living – nature, breath, meditation and surrender. I have developed this practice of experiential gift giving since my children reached high school age. And along the way this allowed us to focus on the heart rather than on the gadgets. Both my son and daughter have been and continue to be grateful for this practice.
What is important to you? And more importantly, what is important to the person you are giving a gift to? Is he a budding chef – if so, perhaps you could find a culinary school nearby. Is she a musician – find a concert venue nearby and get a gift certificate. Do they love nature – perhaps a pass to the national parks is in order. Is he a new parent – consider a baby-and-me yoga class. Does she love exercise – maybe a yoga class! Do they live in a big city – a bike share would help them get around. The gifts don’t need to be expensive. A couple of movie tickets or an invitation to share a candle light game of checkers has been a family favorite. One of our family’s greatest heart filling gifts is the gift of giving to those less fortunate. We forget sometimes how much we have and there are many families that are in need of basic items. I call this The Gift of Gratitude – celebrating the lives of others~
When giving an experience, I would encourage you to include a beautiful card and write honestly about why you chose this particular gift. Include the values that drove your thinking, the things you admire about the person receiving the gift, and the intention you had in mind when you chose it – all of this will add meaning to both the giving and the receiving.
Envision the personal growth the receiver will experience as the result. Manifest the positive memories they will create – memories that will s connect to you and are sure to outlast that cashmere sweater, a new shiny gadget or the latest toy that everyone has to have.
Things are fleeting. Memories, thoughts and intentions reside on our cellular membranes and affect our wellbeing. So this year, consider a gift of an experience – perhaps something different is in order.
If you enjoyed this post, please keep your eyes open for my next post on useful gifts for the kitchen.