Created on Saturday, 24 December 2011 Written by MIRIAM BAIER
Giving gifts at Christmastime is a time-honored tradition stemming, some believe, from St. Nicholas, a Christian bishop in the 4th century who would give to the less fortunate. Maybe he was so inspired by the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh offered during the first year of Christ’s birth centuries before.
Regardless of its origins, Christmas gift giving has morphed into a billion dollar industry accented with gobs of glitz and glitter. Many a sweet child and affable adult have become greedy Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde characters as the holiday approaches.
Many strive to create a Christmas worthy of a Norman Rockwell or Currier & Ives illustration, and in so doing, feel they fall short. Whether it’s because of circumstances, financial situations or the unavailability of the trendy electronic device, well-meaning celebrants are disappointed.
In recent years, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have been promoted as big shopping days and, recently, a move has been afoot to shop locally, a very worthy endeavor to be sure.
But let’s not forget many gifts don’t have price tags attached to them.
Look around. Is there a neighbor who could use something you have or something you do? Could you hang something for someone, or hold the ladder for them while they do it? Can you help them organize their photos or upload digital photos to a storage site and create a keepsake book with them?
Could you offer a shoulder to a grieving acquaintance when she doesn’t have her “game face” on? Could you let her lead the conversation and not offer your two cents’ worth about what she ought to be doing or not doing?
What about letting the stranger out in front of you in a line of traffic or holding the door open for a fellow shopper? Could you share that leftover meat loaf and baked potatoes with a single parent?
Could you help out with a local group’s theatrical performance by sewing a costume, donating some props, styling hair, applying makeup, creating a flier about the event or reading lines with an actor? Maybe it’s something you do with your child or a friend, providing a memory-making event for the two of you.
What about a gift swap? Repurposing items is an upbeat way to “go green” and gives new meaning to “regifting.” Why not? Stir up some eggnog and some sugar cookies and make it a party. Sure it’s nice to gift someone, but we shouldn’t expect them always to like the gift. Let someone else get some use out of it. Cut those “strings” that often are attached to gifts we give, expecting them to be used like we would or like we think they should be used. Be glad it’s getting some use and staying out of the landfill.
I’m just saying stuff is stuff and not always worth much. Heartfelt gestures and actions, however, really are priceless.
Like Jon Bon Jovi does in his song, I wish every day could be like Christmas.