Gift shopping, gift wrapping, gift exchange, gift returns, gift disappointments - the logistics of this holiday endeavor are overwhelming and are part of the very stress that we are so much trying to avoid each and every holiday season. If you are still looking for ideas on how not to sabotage the spirit of the season with all this stress, here's a thought to consider. Try inbox stuffers.
An inbox stuffer is a gift of information. If you are reading this, you are online and you've probably been online now for years and years. Chances are your email interface and your internet browser are treasure troves of informational pearls, links and favorite online destinations. Consider putting together an email that is a kind of informational potpourri of stories that you stumbled upon that blew your mind, instilled you with awe, provoked your thinking, enriched your life or just cracked you up. Put "inbox stuffer from (insert your name)" in the subject line and mass-email this collection of informational wealth to your loved ones.
Here are the advantages. First of all, you are making a powerful statement. For a change, you are emphasizing the intangible, life-changing value of information. Second, there is no wrapping involved. Third, the informational gift shows a mindful effort. Fourth, the inbox stuffers will cost you nothing. Fifth, you will spare the recipients the hassle of gift storage and gift returns. If your informational gift is not appreciated, the recipient can always just delete it.
What do you think? Sounds a bit Scroogy? Perhaps. But, perhaps, not. Every speaker - from the President to a fly-by-night commencement circle guru - constantly reminds us about the fact that we are living in the 21st century, in the age of information. Yes, we are. And since we are, why not act our civilization age? How much longer will we be doing all this, frankly, primordial leg-shuffle of hunting for something tangible. Sure, our holiday binge-spending supports the economy. But aren't some forms of support just plain old enabling? Are we not year after year reinforcing this mind-evaporating materialism that we ourselves then later suffer from?
Why not, for a change, set a precedent of truly information-age gift-giving? As you finish this, go surf the net (are we still using this phrase, by the way?). Find a good wave of information to ride - a smart blog to subscribe to or some intriguing Wiki article. Just consider for a moment the immense wealth of experience at your fingertips. Within minutes you can tap into more informational doorways than there were in the whole ancient Library of Alexandria.
Whatever you do after reading this, get this: any gift - however much it costs, however it's wrapped and irrespective of its nature - eventually becomes information in the mind of the recipient. Experience is information. Spare yourself the material goose-chase, save some money, cut down your carbon emission footprint, and expand your mindprint in the consciousness of those who matter to you - with nothing more than a mindfully composed inbox stuffer. Share you - share what matters to your mind.
Pavel Somov, Ph.D. is the author of "Eating the Moment" (New Harbinger, 2008), "Present Perfect" (NH, 2010), and "The Lotus Effect" (NH, 2010). He is in private practice in Pittsburgh, PA. For more information visit www.eatingthemoment.com and sign up for Pavel Somov's monthly "Mindful-not-Mouthful" Newsletter