Psychologists, anthropologists, and marketers have found that giving gifts is a surprisingly complex and important human interaction that helps to define relationships and strengthens bonds between family and friends. Gift giving has been part of many cultures and rituals for thousands of years. First Nation’s potlatches were a giving feast and in fact the word potlatch comes from the Chinook jargon meaning “to give away” or “gift.” Giving is embedded in our celebrations, our history and our expressions of caring.
Psychologists often point out that giving to others reinforces our feelings to them and makes us feel effective and caring.
Many individuals today lament that Christmas has become too materialistic. Many of us have enough stuff.
All the stuff associated with gift giving including packaging and wrapping also creates lots of waste. Household waste increases by 25% from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
Instead of banning gifts perhaps it is time to rethink what we actually are giving. Instead of objects perhaps we think of creating feelings, memories and experiences.
Creating memories can start with joining family and friends to prepare for the season. Baking cookies with mom may be a memory children remember long after any memory of shopping. Creating memories is about moments of togetherness and caring.
Sharing memories with parents and older relatives reconnects that past and present. Sharing family stories connects children with their family history.
Giving the gift of time enriches the lives of children and perhaps the neighbour who is alone. Reading a Christmas story with a child or inviting a neighbour for tea is about giving your time and attention.
Giving the gift of your services by volunteering with a community group or cause is another way of gifting the spirit of Christmas. Christmas is a time that food banks, charities, rest homes, animal shelters and hospitals are in need of volunteers.
Donating money or needed items to a charity is a gift that can help to create positive change.
Give a hug.
Give a hand, Offer to help someone.
And with these gifts we can create fuzzy warm feelings not waste.