About this time in the crazy-consumer-christmas-season-madness your newsfeed, newspaper fliers, radio ads, internet, everywhere will start filling up with things that go like this: “Fifteen affordable last minute gifts” or “Last minute gift ideas for every budget” or “Last minute deals for everyone on your list.”
There’s something that strikes me as just wrong about this. I mean, I’m all for affordable and budgets. I’m even one for lists (oh people, my life is a list. So satisfying to check something off!) But the words “last minute” should never be attached to the word “gift.”
The Slow Movement (you may be most familiar with Slow Food movement) is all about slowing down life’s pace and being intentional and thoughtful about one’s actions. I think gift giving needs to fall into this category. If you want to give gifts, take your time, be intentional. Yes, make a list – make a list of all the people you love and then think about each person one at a time. Why do you want to give a gift to that person? It might be a desire to make that person happy or it might be because you want to show that person that they are valued in your sight. Maybe you want to bring laughter to someone or move someone to tears. What would accomplish this? Is it within your means to give such a gift to that person? If not, is there another way to express what you want that would be meaningful to that person?
You see how this approach cannot possibly be a last-minute exercise and the answers to those questions are unlikely to be found under any of the categories I listed in the first paragraph. Don’t get me wrong – sometimes a really good book or a mug with your favourite tea is actually the perfect gift for someone. It can be the thing that shows someone you really took time to consider what would make that person happy.
Some of the best gifts I’ve been given have been things that someone took time with. Some of those gifts were purchased – like the Santa my dad bought for my first Christmas. Other are gifts that someone took time to make for me, like the gorgeous quilted tree skirt my friend made for me more than 20 years ago (look closely at the first photo), the birdie Santa my sister made for me years ago or the blog my hubby made for my 50th birthday (on which there was a post each day for the 50 days leading up to my actual birthday. It was amazing!)
Don’t get sucked into the panic of this last week. Giving should be a joyful experience not a burden. Take your time and be intentional.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?