Words cannot describe how “over” presents I am. Not because I don’t enjoy or appreciate sentimental, useful, or thoughtful gifts, but because people waste so much money on useless items for others because they feel obligated to, especially around holidays, birthdays, and days of the year highlighted by the marketing departments of corporations like Hallmark and Nestlé.
Now, my thoughts and beliefs do not stem from the “Minimalism Movement” or a desperate need to fit in with the “hip” crowd despite how many people wrongfully dub me a hippy or hipster because I live and think differently than they do. My thoughts on the subject have developed in recent years due to umpteen moves around the country and world, being responsible for cleaning out my deceased uncle’s house after he passed away, and really considering my finances as an adult.
As a traveler, there is only so much one is willing and able to carry around planet. If an item isn’t essential or I can’t wear it in multiple ways over the course of a week, it doesn’t make the cut. Now, I do believe in investing in quality goods that can withstand my habits and lifestyle, but I don’t believe in purchasing things because they are cheap or on sale and then letting them sit around a house only to take up space and eventually throw away. That is gluttonous, unnecessary, and completely irresponsible both economically and environmentally.
I would be willing to bet that eight times out of ten, our gifting is a completely selfish act. We want people to know that we are thinking of them. We want people to appreciate what we have done for them. And more often than not, we don’t want to look like the cheap asshole in the family or friend group. Dumb.
Isn’t the true purpose of giving gifts about doing something for another person? Something that will help them out or bring them joy. Ugh! I get so flustered over this.
Look, I’m a VERY fortunate person with a family that could basically fill up its own city and I have friends all over the world. I understand what a blessing that is, but I can’t imagine what kind of house I would be forced to try to buy to store all of the stuff I had if they all decided to give me a tangible gift. You know what I really love getting from them? Their time. Their affection. Their hugs and kisses and funny stories. Their undivided attention (that means phones are put the hell away).
There is no better gift my fiancé gives me than his time, and I am so glad he understands this and takes it seriously. He knows that sitting down for coffee or a meal brings me more joy than a silly sparkly object. My closest friends understand this, too. And if they do get me something, it’s usually well thought out and useful for my lifestyle, or just a sweet card to let me know I’m on their minds because I LOVE written words—they don’t take up much space…and paper can be recycled. *Hair flip.*
I do encourage others to invest more time in one another instead of trying to shower everyone with gifts. Think about it. How good do you feel after having a stimulating conversation with someone? Now think about that feeling and compare it to the one you immediately get when your distant relative or office mate gives you a $30 candle that either gives you a headache or makes you cringe (’cause let’s face it, not many people give you candles that you actually love the smell of). So you can either walk away feeling high on life and good energy, or you can accept the overbearing candle and think of ways to get rid of it without it smelling up your sacred space.
Note to distant relatives and office mates: Save the $30 and just take a walk or sit down to have a nice conversation. If you can’t do that, just avoid giving any kind of gift and focus that time and energy on the people you actually value in this life, because time is a precious and priceless gift that you aren’t guaranteed more of.
Presence is far more valuable than presents, and it’s wanted and needed by our loved ones more than material goods.
The Humble Lion
P.S. This post was written for My Weekly Contribution, but it’s a couple of days late because I have had a busy week and wanted to be fully present during the time I had with my loved ones. Ironic, isn’t it?
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Kalu Ndukwe Kalu
The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.