Friday, December 18, 2009

The Rarely Requested Gifts

When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow,
We hear sweet voices ringing from lands of long ago,
And etched on vacant places
Are half-forgotten faces
Of friends we used to cherish, and loves we used to know.
(Ella Wheeler Wilcox)

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Looking around at the throng of pushing, shoving rude customers in the store with me, I was beginning to think I had lost my mind waiting so late in the holiday season to shop for those elusive gifts under the tree. There wasn’t an ounce of holiday cheer present anywhere. Where was the ghost of Christmas past? Christmas present it seemed had lost all decorum, running amok and out of control.

A woman rudely shoves past practically knocking me off my feet to get to the display I’m standing in front of. “Sorry,” I mumble in her direction as I absently rejoin the throng of mad frenzied shoppers. Her rudeness was deserving of much more than the questioning raised eyebrow that I gave, indicated as much. However, I was determined I wasn’t going to play a part in the hostility and chaotic mayhem present around this time of the year. Somehow my moral compass would stay firmly pointed toward the positive.

“I don’t know what the hell you want from me. Why should I know any more than you do what to get our grandkids? I don’t talk to them the way you do. Send money for all I care!”

I didn’t mean to catch that last bit of conversation. Not really. I had just absently looked toward the older man thinking, I would glimpse a bit of holiday cheer in his face. After seeing the saddened expression his remarks left. I wished I hadn’t. The woman those words were meant for was close to tears and I wondered once again – What is wrong with people?

“How can we afford all this? I’m losing my job at the end of the month!”

“It’s Christmas.” Was the only reply to what I thought wasn’t an unreasonable question. Christmas wouldn’t be enough of an explanation when the heat wasn’t paid on a cold winter’s night would it?

Stop watching people’s lips I scolded myself. Do you really want to be a party to their misery?

The worst was…I was there in the midst of it all. My own arms filled as I waited in line to make my purchases and my mind wandered over Christmases past. Each year had been a race of one up man ship in lieu of the year before. I recognized that old familiar desperate need to give my daughter as many gifts as I could afford, some years finding myself in dept for gifts she no longer played with mere months afterward.

Later that evening, I sat strangely detached and removed from feeling any goodwill cheer at all. My moral compass had been stomped on and grounded into the floor. When did I or anyone for that matter forget – what this season used to represent? When did we get so lost in the rush and havoc pace of buying and forget about those timely gifts of the heart.

“Send a gift – anything, what does it matter. It’s not us they want to see.”

Let me ask you dear gentle readers, what was on your Christmas list this year? What did you request? Was it love, peace, time with family? Serenity, compassion and self worth have fallen on the wayside in search of bigger, better, and more expensive pursuits haven’t they?

I didn’t like the answers I came up with either.

So this year I’m giving the biggest gift of all – to myself. I’m going to request from here on in, love me, cherish me, and spend the holiday in laughter and give of your self to me. Nothing more, nothing less – yet it far exceeds any purchased gift. It’s not about being stingy or lazy. It’s about wanting the best of what life can give me. It’s about experiencing the beauty of those wondrous human souls that share my life.

Slip a love letter in the tree branches, bring a dish to share, but most of all bring a smile and the gift of time. Promise, you will be richer for it.

Take this wondrous time of the year, leave the malls behind, the pushing and shoving and rude behavior – gather around friends and family from afar and simply enjoy the biggest gifts of all, those of the heart. So what’s on your list this year? Let’s make those rarely requested gifts that don’t cost a penny – the next best thing on everyone’s Christmas list. - Indigo

35 comments:

  1. My sentiments exactly, we are going minimal this year, pretty much stuff we would get anyway. The one thing we are doing is getting my folks a new TV to replace their second one that is on its last leg. They are planning on buying one in May or so when they pay off a debt, so this will truly be an unexpected gift - it will be priceless :o)

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  2. I'm with you on this one. just sum time shared with close friends and to remember the real purpose for Christmas. I too am taking time to appreciate me and my self worth. for once in a very long time, it is a happier Christmas. Happy Holidays to you filled with Love, Joy & Laughter. Hugz!

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  3. What a lovely post - and yet sad at the same time. It's amazing how greedy, self-absorbed and frazzled people become at this time of year. So, I will do my part - and spread a little peace & love in my small corner of the world.

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  4. I did some shopping a few days ago (luckily, the store wasn't crowded at all...) and I got something more special to me than 'stuff'.... time with my baby girl. Not so much of a baby, anymore, but still a baby to me....

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  5. You've captured some common experiences, but that is life, Christmas comes with responsibility BUT then how we feel about it at the end - is what we decided to make of it and do with it.
    Have joyous Christmas experience.
    BM

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  6. i noticed a lot of this, over the course of the past two weeks as I shopped. it made me so sad, and i have kept things to the bare minimum here. our gift to everyone is our wedding, and good company.

    i wish i could go back to the joy i felt when i was a child-- i really miss that. but then, as i'm sitting in midnight mass, i still get a huge lump in my throat as they sing o holy night, and i remember the REAL reason for the season.

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  7. And then there are us who have to work the night shift and have NO holidays off- the time I get to spend with anyone is cherished- Good points and good writing- Write on-Di

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  8. My wife and I buy for immediate family to cut down on the dinero issue. (And I mean very immediate family.) We also purchase the majority of gifts online to avoid the stores and rude individuals.

    Btw Wilcox ("Solitude") is a favorite poet of mine.

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  9. I feel your meaning about the insane, desperate need to give gifts that have no meaning and no lasting appeal.

    Secretia

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  10. i'd much rather receive the gift of time from my loved ones....

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  11. This is beautiful, Indigo. I will be thinking of you on Christmas day. I hope it turns out just as you wish :)

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  12. we are also not exchanging gifts other than our vows. i feel very fortunate to be with a man who sees the christmas farce in a way similar to me.

    i wont be stepping into a store other than to get groceries until after the holidays and that's fine with me.

    we will celebrate the fact that family and friends can be together to raise a glass and toast to the days ahead. then we will also be shooting christmas ceramics with a 22. . .


    i hope you and p have a peaceful restful holiday, and my best to your daughter and her husband-

    xxalainaxx

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  13. Thanks for popping in! I really enjoyed this post. We are scaling WAY back this year.

    We decided that this year, on the first day of December, to throw a family meeting. Each family member choose one low-cost activity (such as sledding, etc) that they wanted to do as a family. The month of December has been about making those wishes come true. And making memories along with it.

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  14. You were right; I loved this post.

    It reminded me of a similar scenario I experienced last year in the mall. There was a couple and the husband was talking to the wife the same way, the wife was all red faced and choking back tears and he kept at her.

    It was disgusting and it zapped any and all spirit I had right out of me. That said, I've had my own moments of mall meltdown. Back in the day when Col and I were double income/no kids and had a ton of money, I was the 'more expensive, the better' or 'piles of presents' type. Everything had to be beautifully wrapped and the best wines had to be brought to the parties.

    I cried, yelled and panicked about 14 times each season. It was ugly.

    This year we're on one income and broke. We have no credit cards and there's no getting into debt to buy 'more'. Our families are getting us, we are getting them, there is no emphasis on gifts (except for the one or two that have asked for lists, which I've refused to give besides from the girls) there is magic and spirit around the house and neighbourhood ... and you know what?

    So far, it's been one of the most relaxed and peaceful season's I can ever remember and I don't see that changing in the upcoming week.

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  15. Yes,your list is what I ask for everyday,Indigo.
    This post was amazingly powerful and touching to me today.I so appreciate the time you take to share so honeslty and thoughtfully.
    I just loved this post..even the lttle bits of snow falling on your page was calming :)

    {HUGE BLOGGER BUDDY HUGS}

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  16. That's why I give Meat, you don't see any pushing or shoving at the meat counter, just imagine Aunt Sally's face when she gets a little
    Knockwurst in her stocking.

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  17. This is exactly why I love you so much!!!!! Anne

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  18. Hi Indigo,
    I'm glad for the economy to see people are out shopping but - yikes -- where's the holiday spirit? Maybe online shopping is the way to go!
    Best,
    Marty

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  19. Absolutely, smiles and family is all I want also. Merry Christmas.

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  20. Indigo-That shopping scene you witnessed is an uncomfortable echo of Christmases past. No wonder I love shopping by myself!

    This post is a gift. Thank you for reminding me of what I hold true in my heart.

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  21. My sentiments exactly..
    I have two seperate celebrations this year. I decided that instead of wearing myself out, I wanted to enjoy my family..and it worked. Ham on rolls and store bought potato salad. It was about spending time with my grandkids rather than the amount of food that was put on the table..
    Thank you dear Indigo for your thoughts and prayers:)
    Hugs, Sheri

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  22. thank you for the reminder of a promise I made to myself many years ago, when my oldest son was only one.

    xo

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  23. Nothing like a day at the mall to beat the joy of Christmas out of you. How sad.

    Another blogger was asked on a meme "what do you do for someone less fortunate at Christmas?" His answer: the same thing I do the rest of the year.
    I loved that!

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  24. I so agree with you. The cheapest gift ie family/friends companionship appears to be the most expensive one to give... I so wish that that was exactly what was on the top of everyones list.. .
    I think perhaps that is one of the blessings of our blogs..there we know that our friends/family do come and spend some time with us and even comunicate by making a comment or two.
    God Bless and Have a lovely Christmas
    Love Sybil xx

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  25. Indigo, this is a wonderful post. It really brings to mind what the real meaning of the holiday is. I think that the best gift is love.

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  26. I hope you get your wish, Indigo.

    Happy Christmas!

    Sending love,

    SB

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  27. You have prepared me for the shopping I have left to do. I too, have always wondered when I see people togather, joined at the hip...who bicker, cajole, and quarrel in their fashion.

    Where is JOY?
    Where is HAPPINESS? Where is PEACE? Oh, well, lessons to be re-learned and kept fresh for us.....

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  28. I just got around to checking out your blog - your writing is beautiful and I'm so happy to become a follower! I completely agree with you, the spirit has been lost in utter commercialism and a desperate need to buy as much "stuff" as possible.

    For those of you who can, try to get back that spirit of giving quality over quantity. I've made deals with a lot of my friends that as we're in that relatively poor phase in our lives we should agree not to get each other anything and just spend time together instead.

    And for those people I do purchase gifts for, I keep it to a small budget. Yes, it would be nice to buy everyone numerous extravagant gifts, but I can't afford it, and I have to be okay with that.

    The last thing I'll say that has really helped me this year is - I save for Christmas all year long. I know this seems difficult, but setting aside $20 a paycheck usually won't break your budget. By the end of the year you've got almost $500 to spend. And let me tell you, it's much easier to have fun shopping and feel the spirit of giving if you know you're not going to have to pay 13% APR on everything you buy!

    Happy Holidays everyone!

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  29. beautiful and sad. isn't it strange how these two things go hand in hand sometimes?
    this year, we've done a handmade christmas. we're making stuff for the baby and bryan and i aren't doing anything for each other. well, that's a lie. we decided last night to be in charge of each other's stockings. but that's it. it's quite liberating to know i haven't stepped one foot in a mall this year.
    happy holidays to you and yours, dear friend.

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  30. Well said...hope you have a wonderful Christmas and great New Year!



    Melanie

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  31. Count me in for such wonderful giving--it is "what was given to us", long, long ago.

    My best reading this evening was right here on your blog, my friend Indigo. Your Quiet Screams are penetratingly beautiful, Raven....

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  32. Let your poverty be your wealth...

    This story saddens and inspires me. I know the holidays are hard, on just about everyone. No one gets a perfect Christmas. And I am so glad that what is on your wishlist is what we can all give the most freely - love. It never runs out, takes credit or cash...and changes lives.

    Bless you and yours, Indigo. May your holiday season be peaceful and bright.

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  33. Beautiful post. Puts it all in perspective. Many thanks, Michael.

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  34. Lovely post. I know how you feel Indigo. Sometimes it seems like people abandon the holiday spirit as soon as the season starts.

    Stan and I don't exchange gifts anymore during the holiday season. He was off from work for a vacation week for the last week in December through the third of January. That was the best present I could get. Our holiday season is all about the love, friendship, and doing things that make us happy and make others happy.

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Thank you for giving my silence a voice, my muse your words, and taking the time to discover my prose.