What's it like to have a conscious approach to gift giving? I've been sitting with that question this year, noticing my own more relaxed and spacious approach to Christmas this year. Here's what I've been noticing.
First, conscious giving begins with recognizing that we are enough just as we are. There is no need to give something that will protect or feel good to our ego. There's no need to impress anyone or to show that we are good enough. When we recognize that we are enough, we know that our budget (of time and money) is perfect.
Second, we recognize that the person we're giving to is already enough. They don't need us to give them the perfect gift that will make them happy, because their happiness and well-being come from a deeper place. Isn't that a relief?
Knowing these two things can dissolve the unhelpful rules we've been living with all of our lives. There's no need to spend a set amount of money, to give something big enough, or to prove ourselves. When we give from ourselves as souls to our loved ones as souls, the old patterns of giving fall away.
That leaves us with something much simpler, the joy of giving. Sometimes conscious giving leads us to give a material thing--a book we know someone will love, a special photo, a family membership to a special place. Sometimes it may lead us to give an experience--a ticket to a concert, a delicious dinner, baking cookies together. Or an adventure--a walk in the woods or a train ride. Or something from nature--flower bulbs, a beautiful homemade wreath, a leaf mandala.
It will be simpler than the consumer giving that is so prevalent. It will not lead us into debt. It will rarely lead us to a crowded shopping center. And it won't make us exhausted and resentful, feeling overwhelmed by the gift-giving holiday. It may bring the peace and joy that we talk about, write on our Christmas cards, and sing songs about into our actual lives. Won't that be wonderful?!
I'm a mom, wife, daughter, friend, and teacher who has long struggled with the desire to be the perfect person I imagine that I should be. Practicing mindfulness has changed my life, helping me to make peace with myself as I truly am and to appreciate my family, life, and the world as they actually are.