I was on the phone recently discussing with a friend how crazy people start to act at this time of year. We were comparing notes of the different things we had witnessed while shoppers were all attempting to get somewhere, see someone, or do something. I had just returned from Los Angeles, where I witnessed a postal truck go through a red light as the carrier was looking at mail and at a woman jaywalking through a busy street while balancing holiday purchases in her hands. It was just amazing to watch it all. Why do people feel the need at this time of year to run around and buy, buy, buy? And all the Christmas stuff was in my local stores before Halloween! I totally understand that people want to make Christmas a special time for children, but when it comes to buying a present for anyone over 18, I've decided to make donations.
If I see something in a store in July that I think a friend would like, I don't hesitate to buy it for them and give it to them because I was thinking of them. But I don't like the pressure of purchasing something right after Thanksgiving that they may never use. Now I spend one day on the computer creating donations in people's names to charities. I like Doctors Without Borders, water.org, Voice for the Animals, and The Trevor Project. But I mix it up to make it significant to the recipient.
The original idea of gifting began in the 4th century with St. Nicholas, a Christian bishop, who was known for his generosity in giving to those less fortunate than he; as well as to children of all backgrounds simply so they could have a joyful memory from their childhood. The most common gifts were homemade foods and sweets, oranges (a huge treat due to their scarcity), and handcrafted items like clothes, blankets or furniture.
I looked up the definition of "gift" in the dictionary. It means: Something that is bestowed voluntarily and without compensation. The act, right or power of giving. There is nothing in the definition that says you must buy a retail item. Therefore, I say the true spirit of the holiday is to be with the ones you love and be thankful for their presence in your life. Let them know how much you care by giving to someone in need in their honor. It is also a great time to help anyone in your neighborhood who is elderly or may have a spouse in the Armed Services. Volunteering your time to babysit, walk a dog, or do a chore is really a gift to yourself.
The easiest gift to share with the most people is a smile. People are frazzled this time of year so letting someone ahead of you in line, being courteous in traffic, and holding open doors is a gift. When we give from our hearts instead of from our bank accounts, I truly feel that is the true essence of the season. I know that giving is better than receiving, so I certainly don't begrudge someone giving me something. But I'd rather a hungry child get a meal instead of me getting another tie.