(Image from lavnatalia on Pixabay)
Tis the season to spend tonnes of money on things that people will forget about by the time the New Year clocks in. Cynical much? Not really. I am a present giver, to a certain extent, and whilst I love the idea of giving, I think that we have to think more about what we give and how. Growing up in my family we go to ask Santa for one big present and we would get a stocking chock full of little presents. And that was it. The one big present would have to be something that we really really wanted and the little presents were normally things that meant something. Nothing beat the excitement of going to sleep on Christmas eve and waking up the next morning to spy a fat stocking hanging on my bedroom door.
Also, nothing beat the family coming round for Christmas lunch, kids running around, cold ham and salads, trifle and Christmas pudding, jumping in the pool, playing Christmas carols at top volume, and the laughter, of the laughter around the Christmas table. Do I remember all of the presents that I received?.... nope. Do I remember special moments with family members? Yes. And these special moments are even more precious now that some of those people are no longer with us.
Relationships and experiences matter more than the material, the object, the disposable. I did a gratitude survey on Twitter this week asking what people were grateful for this year, the choices were: experiences, material, relationships, and career. 43 people voted, 73% said they were most grateful for relationships, 20% said experiences, 5% said careers, and 2% said material. I was only slightly surprised. I thought it would be closer between relationships and experiences, but the people have spoken (no I am not chucking a Theresa May), or rather the very small sample size have spoken.
So, I want you to think of celebrating Christmas from a less material perspective, and approach it from how can I cultivate good, positive relationships this season. How can I act and behave that will nurture the relationships I have? But also think, instead of buying a gift for someone can I perhaps provide them with an experience instead.
That new jacket, dvd, or phone won't help you thrive and flourish (though of course, it is nice to get new things, but the point is....), but relationships and experiences will have a larger impact on your mental health and wellbeing.
Think outside the box this season - especially if you have left your Christmas shopping to the last minute and you don't want to have to face the crowds of last-minute shoppers this weekend. Here are a few ideas:
1. Write a Thank You letter (or Christmas Card) to someone you love as a present. Make sure you write about something that they have done or said that you are grateful for. Be effusive, be descriptive, and be open hearted.
2. Think of a person you love and what their character strengths are, i.e., brave, creative, hopeful, and then buy or create an experience that fits with that character strength. If they are creative people perhaps they would love some vouchers to life drawing classes, if they are curious perhaps they would love a visit to a museum, if they are humorous perhaps they would love a homemade book of jokes (google for jokes on the internet, type them up, and present them to the person you love).
3. If you have a bit more money to spend, look at going to a company like This Pampered Life where they can create a package, that suits many budgets, of experiences for the recipient.
Merry Christmas everyone!