I love giving gifts. I love getting gifts. I hate feeling like I have to give gifts. I hate even more the feeling of not giving a gift when I feel like I should have. It's that last sentiment that I wish I could shake today.
This past weekend our family shared a day making Norwegian lefse (delicious potato crepe with wrapped up with butter and sugar). It is a wonderful tradition that we share with my husband's family and their best friends. It is the kind of tradition that I am so grateful that I married into-shared work followed by a wonderful meal, an ethnic tradition passed down through the generations and a day so special that we all skip whatever we have going on to make it happen. This is the kind of day that the "hundred dollar holiday" is made of.
It is perfect except that it has become transformed into another gift-giving holiday. It might have started because one of the kids has a birthday that same weekend. Or maybe it was the year that one woman bought us all "lefse making t-shirts". That was fun, but it should have stopped there. This year we drove home with three mini-basketballs, a clip on flash light, a holiday coloring book, holiday room spray, a holiday lotion 3-pack, a holiday double shot glass, a holiday jar opening/trivet, and a parafin wax foot spa.
I brought nothing to give. I did this on purpose because I was tired of feeling like I should when there was no justifiable reason why I should. I did this because all these little $20 mini-gifts and hostess gifts etc. add to our massive credit card debt every December and I am trying to put an end to the overspending. I did this because anything I would have bought would have been just because, not because they had any meaning.
Now I feel like crap. I feel bad because I came empty handed and came home with a trunk-full, I feel bad because I like these people and it is fun to give... yet I didn't. I also feel bad because I now own a bunch of stuff that I didn't really need and how need to find a place for. I feel bad for feeling ungrateful.
I am sure we all have "obligatory" gift giving scenarios we face each year. How do we handle these in a proactive way? How can we show our appreciation for others, give a gift of meaning etc without falling into the trap of more spending, more waste? Looking forward to everyone's insight.
February/March 09- The Natural Step: Hartland Edition
December 08- $100 Christmas
August '08 - Nature Kids
July '08 - Green Parenting
June ' 08 - Eat Local!
May '08 - Laundry Logic
April '08 - Green Your Lawn
March '08 - Reusable Containers
February '08 - Purge and Reuse
Every step we take to reduce our footprint on the planet is good, no matter how small or large. We all come from different situations, have different values and have varying levels of environmental experience so we will make different choices. It is the direction we are headed that is important.
Living in a more sustainable way is about abundance not deprivation. It can be about more fun, more community, new possibilities and cool technology,
There is a growing desire for people from a variety socioeconomic, political and religious viewpoints to make choices in our lives that are more in balance with the natural world. This issue belongs to all of us!
By sharing our experiences and ideas we can make it easier to keeping moving toward a life that is in line with our values.