Saturday, December 17, 2011
No Pre-Packaged Holiday this year
Pre-tied glossy ribbons, shiny ornaments and gleaming wrapping paper hung above the reams of tinsel and pin lights for mantles and trees, next to adorned plastic wreaths, scented candles and rotating tabletop trees with fiber optic lights that blinked at me, as I searched the shop aisles for something that would trigger the elusive Christmas spirit, I was looking for in the store. Displays of wrapped gifts with pine cones and holly, cooking recipes to stretch a waistline and decorating ideas, jumped from my TV screen, in between commercials for toys, clothes and cars, filling my unfulfilled spirit with longing for a more generous way of sharing the Christmas spirit.
As I leafed through local papers, filled with smiling faces offering me holiday discounts that would disappear if I didn't act quickly, I wondered if anyone of them cared if I had the spirit of giving or just the capacity to spend. The requests for donations to the needy, that fell from my mailboxes, both physically and electronically, trying to reach that left over space in my heart and on my credit card, was met with a cool indifference, knowing my name was one of thousands generated from an unsolicited mailing list. Electronic gadgets that seemed to sprout new generations every holiday, capture my interests in gizmos, for a moment, but do not elicit a spirit of Christmas in me, anymore than a snow shovel would.
As I think back, the things that had triggered the spirit for me were sharing time and good will with family and friends, with little more than happiness and gratitude as a gift. The debt laden guilt that often follows last minute gift giving is different from the freely given love and appreciation that a drop by visit on a snowy day could provide. Breaking bread together or sharing a cup of tea, does more to spread joy to the world than an unappreciated gift, whether it was a good buy or not.
As we pull ourselves out of a long struggle for economic balance, we can look at more ways to give the spirit of Christmas to our families and communities. Items that not only benefit a retailer’s bottom line but employ local manufacturers and those they touch, rather than those a continent away. As I purchase local items, here in Columbia County, like scarves from Jeffrey Aronoff, gloves from DeMarchin and handmade knits from Spruce Ridge Farm, the feeling of impacting not only those I give the items to but who made them, makes it full circle for me. The gift of supporting those around me, seem to provide a spirit of giving that extends beyond myself, touching my friends and and community altogether.