With Thanksgiving having occurred just a week ago tomorrow for friends in the US, I didn’t want to let the spirit of gratitude to fade. In fact, I want the spirit to grow, and I thought one way in which I could do this is by sharing with you my re-definition of the holidays, one that has been in our little two adult-three cat family for a few years now.
Let’s Start With Black Friday
Research shows that gratitude should be a regular part of our lives, not relegated to a singular day of thanks-giving; read this post from Maggie over at Northern Expenditure for more details. Over the last few years, but most especially the last several months, we’ve been trying to make gratitude a larger part of our lives. At the end of each day, we try to remember to say what we’re thankful. I like the idea of writing it down, too, especially during challenging times when gratitude may be a challenge itself.
During the course of our conversation, the notion of contentment and the feeling of gratitude also came up. Contentment has been on my mind lately, particularly what the arrival of the
buy-everything-you-see-and-go-into-debt holiday season. Though I discuss both here, I shall save contentment for another post.
We Stopped Being Gifters
During the holiday season, advertisers would have us believe that shopping is a necessity. Gratitude is carelessly shoved to the side in favor of desire. Contentment? What’s that? The holidays have the power to bring out the worst in us, and the Black Friday shopping extravaganza is great example of that.
A few years ago, we made a decision to stop the holiday madness. In fact, we stopped buying gifts. Period. We don’t buy gifts for each other, or for anyone else for that matter. No one we know needs anything, and if they did, it wouldn’t be a need limited to the holiday season (and we would already know about it).
The anxiety and debt associated with overspending on a seemingly obligatory, gift-giving holiday was the antithesis of what we wanted out of the holidays. For plenty of years, we stressed over the “need to go Christmas shopping.” Have you found yourself saying this phrase? Or maybe, “I need to get [someone] something?”
That’s what I am calling “gifting.” The “need to buy [someone] something” is gifting, not giving.
Ecommerce makes it such that any day of the year can be your birthday or Christmas or whatever holiday you deem it “necessary” to buy something. If you want a sweater, you can buy one immediately—no need to wait until Christmas. Anything you want or need, you can have today courtesy of the Internet.
Rather than play gift-giving guessing games in our attempts to procure whatever stuff we thought people wanted, we decided to stop the madness, the stress and the debt. We wanted to make holidays about that which we thought the holidays should be about: memories. We spend time with family and friends making memories. Playing games, enjoying dinners and having a lot of laughs are the only gifts we want for the holidays.
We Strive to be Givers
I’ll keep this part brief so as to not seem as if though we’re bragging–truly, we’re not. We’re no better than anyone else.
There are families out there with real needs, so we donate to charities that help others rather than spend money on gifts. We’re far happier and less stressed when we’re generous. We have more than we need to meet our needs, so we give more and consume less.
I think others feel the same way we do but might be afraid to speak up and change their family dynamics. We bring it up to validate that it’s OK to think differently and to do the holidays differently, too. Concerned about the impact on your family? Try Our Next Life’s phased-in approach and inch toward your giving goals little by little every year.
And in case you missed how much gratitude there is out there, check out this post, this post, this post and this post. If you’ve written a post on gratitude, I encourage you to share it in your comment–the world needs more of it.