I've been thinking a lot about gifts this holiday season and why they are so important to me. In snippets of overheard conversation, I've been realizing that most people think that gifts are commercial, that giving gifts takes too much time, and that overall, December would be a lot better off without the gifts. It's always strange to discover that your own strong opinions or feelings on a topic are squarely in the minority, and stranger still when you realize that if you tried to express your feelings, people would think you were not only wrong, but a bad person. In this case, a commercial person.
I've found myself defending my point of view, and as I listen to myself, I think: I sound as though I feel guilty. I'm just backing up their opinion that underneath all of these excuses, I really just want something shiny wrapped under my tree.
So, I've tried to stop talking and do a little more thinking. Why are gifts so important to me? This love of gifts started when I was a little girl, creating my own vision of the holiday season. We were desperately poor, which might lead a person to believe that I was just excited to finally get something I really, really wanted. But, actually, because we were poor, my parents made nearly all of the presents they gave away. We'd sit down at the beginning of December and think through what we wanted to make, and then our living room would turn into a factory full of paint, wood and hot glue. Among the family, since we didn't have money to toss away, we would think long and hard about the just-right present. Of course, there would have to be a bit of money spent, but part of the joy was finding a way to give someone something far beyond what you could buy in a store. When I think of gifts, I think of a person spending time and love to make something unique--to me, a gift is love that you can hold in your hands.
So, this December, I've decided to take matters into my own hands. I've put together a holiday scavenger hunt that is all about giving gifts, but not the commercial kind. Want to join in? The details are below.
Here’s the scoop:
Complete four of the following six challenges, and then post a paragraph about your experience on the Naomi Kinsman Facebook fan page. People who complete the challenge and post on Facebook will qualify for the opportunity to Award-a-Friend. See below for details on this very special Award-a-Friend gift opportunity.
Look for five-ten items in your room that you can donate to a good cause–either Salvation Army, Goodwill, or otherwise, depending on what you’re giving away.
2. Watch for someone in your life who has a task or tasks that they do all of the time for you. Surprise them by taking care of this task once, twice, or even for a whole week.
3. Keep your ears open for an organization in your community that is doing something special for people in need. Give in an over-the-top way by gathering a group of friends donating together: either items or food or even a little money. It’s amazing how much more a group can accomplish than one person by him or herself.
4. Listen carefully. Is there someone in your life who needs a little more time? Time is a valuable commodity because there’s just only so much of it. But you could give someone time in a few ways. You could help someone complete a task in half the time by helping them with it. Or, you could watch your younger siblings for an afternoon to give one of your parents a few hours all to themselves. Or you could even help a parent carve out some creative or get-things-done time by designating a time during the day when you will not interrupt them.
5. Give creatively, Sadie-style. Use your special gifts to create something for a friend or family member. Do you draw, paint, write poetry? Do you have a specialty item that you like to bake? These are the types of gifts that could never be bought in a store.
6. Look for an experience you can give to someone you love. Instead of wrapping up something you buy at a store, can you give a picnic in the park, a scavenger hunt in a museum, or a snow-adventure, complete with a hike, a snowman and hot cocoa. Have the adventure now, or wrap up a description of what you will do after Christmas and put it under the tree.
If you complete at least four of the six challenges, and post about it online, Naomi will contact you directly about Awarding-a-Friend. You will nominate a friend (or two or three!) for a special award, such as “Chef Extraordinaire!” or “Generous Genius!” You will email a two-three sentence description of why this friend has earned this award, and Naomi will post the accomplishment on naomikinsman.com. Also, she will send you an electronic pdf certificate that you can print out and give to your friend for Christmas. The deadline to finish the challenges and nominate a friend is December 22. All awards will be posted online on Christmas eve.