The Gift of self – If you asked me: “Do you still believe in the magic of Christmas?” I would have to respond: “Certainly not as it is experienced by the majority of us since, considering the hyper-commercialization that surrounds the festive period, I feel that we may have forgotten the most precious gift of all, that of sharing ourselves and our time with the people that we care about.” The gift of self requires us to be true and generous with our intention and time, assuring our availability with the aim of devoting ourselves to those who are really close to us or simply fully appreciating their company.
However, and in hopes that it won’t offend any member of my family, I can confirm that I have developed a certain adverse feeling towards the holiday season’s social ritual where tradition imposes large get-togethers of extended family under the pretext that family represents the only social cell of real importance. In reality, even if I fully participate, should I not give as much attention, if not more, to those people with whom I have truly developed affinities, a mutual liking, common interests, even if they may not be family members in the traditional sense? I realize, however, that before this practice could be adopted it requires a certain conceptual revolution of the rules and perceptions of society, a Paradigm Shift if you want, and more specifically, unfaltering personal convictions. Could this idea once fully explored possibly become a launching point for a movement that, once set in motion, would eliminate all hypocrisy in our relationships? I truly believe that it could. This way, all our future relationships would be honest, desired and therefore mutually enriching. How about you, what are your thoughts on the matter?
To better illustrate the gift of self, I would like to share with you an example of a personal situation. My 80-year-old father has a much higher need for attentiveness than material objects. But if I follow the recipe that society often follows, I could easily offer him some gadget at Christmas, on his birthday or on Father’s Day just to appease feelings of guilt. However, it’s obvious to me that what he really needs at this time, when the aging process has become a little difficult to handle, is a presence, a companion, an attentive ear. Taking care of his personal affairs as well as seeing to the well-being of my intellectually deficient sister and that of my mother who is hospitalized in a long-term health care facility (this despite the fact that I live 4 hours away from him), seems to me to be of much greater value than any material gift I could give him. Inspiring myself through the first part of this article “A Truly Intended Gift,” this is an example of what I consider to be a gift of self, a truly intended gift in its ultimate form.
Unfortunately, our society of over consumption perpetuates the myth that money and material goods are the answer to all problems. But can it really buy happiness? Since I know that it can’t, I encourage you all to give the gift of self instead and to share your time with those who are important to you, whether they are members of your family or not. Nourish your true connections to those close to you and feed the friendships and relationships with those you truly love. To be genuine in such a way will create inside you a feeling of real happiness and incomparable fullness. I am certain of it! And who knows, maybe you will also benefit from lower credit card balances on your monthly statements :).
Finally, for those of you that want to get inspired through an existing initiative in your quest to become more generous to those around you, I invite you to learn about the “The White Envelope Project” which can be found here: http://www.whiteenvelopeproject.org/. It shows how someone who no longer liked Christmas was able to restore this celebration’s true meaning. (Thanks Chantal for guiding me to it)
I wish you all a “Merry Christmas” and an enjoyable holiday season and may 2011 be filled with happiness, health and above all salutary reflections.
Take care and until next time,