Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa…. all of these cultural traditions are about gifting. The definition of gift is “an item given to someone without the expectation of payment”. It’s such a lovely concept.
Unfortunately, we live in a world of consumerism, so the concept of gifting, equals spending. The idea of bigger is better has been shoved down our throats by the capitalist machine. We now feel obligated to give big-ticket gifts and to fill the stockings to the brim, to show our love and affection.
This new standard is a an epidemic. People go into debt to give their families holiday gifts. I know, I used to be one of them. When I worked in retail and the corporate world, I spent a great deal of money on gifts, because I thought it was what I was supposed to do. My obligation kept me in debt for years. Now that I have minimal resources, I see things differently.
My years of living within the Burning Man community has taught me the concept of gifting. It does not have to have a monetary value. A gift can be a hug, a heart-felt conversation, an act of kindness, a cut of tea, the sharing of art, a song, a banana, a compliment or simply some quality time together.
This education has changed my philosophy on gifting. I no longer feel guilty about being unable to buy gifts. I see that my friends and family feel just as loved, when I give a gift that I’ve made, baked or sewn.
I feel very lucky to have the time to make gifts. I realize that some people don’t have the time, ability or desire to make gifts… so sometimes gifts need to be purchased. Having worked in retail and merchandising, I know the cost of things. Seeing the unbelievably high margins on retail goods, left a bad taste in my mouth. It’s the reason I keep my hand-made goods affordable. The act of gifting should not be expensive.
I feel differently when it comes to receiving gifts as well. There are so many things I am grateful for. Some have been given as gifts. Others I have asked for and received as gifts. I’ve finally realized that it’s okay to ask for help or things I need, and that I am worthy.
Here is a list of the amazing gifts I’ve received:
- Obama Care. I am finally able to get the health care I need and move towards getting a diagnosis and treatment for chronic joint pain. I have hope that I can remain able-bodied or maybe even improve. It also allows me the medication I need for my mental health… and I will finally get my cancer screening that is two years over-due. (My cancer is the type that returns so annual checks are needed).
- Health Care for Dexter. Dexter’s OCD comes with a variety of issues. Dex now has an army of doctors, who work together to keep him healthy, feeling good and moving forward.
- My Home. I would never have been able to own a home, ever. I am so thankful that my parents planned ahead, so they could leave this house to my sister and I. When I think about how hard they worked to leave us this gift, I am overwhelmed.
- Social Services. If it wasn’t for Cal Fresh benefits (food stamps), we’d have to chose between a trip the grocery store, or paying PG&E. Now, we always have food in the house and that expense is no longer an issue.
- Strangers. People who have graciously supported my efforts as an artisan. I am so grateful for everyone who has purchased something from me. That income has allowed me to pay utilities and insurance.
- My Partner. Eli has been the most … the most of everything. He supports me in every possible way one can be supported. He understands me, nurtures me and loves me unconditionally. His generosity knows no bounds. I am unbelievably grateful for Eli’s gift of a new engine for my truck Dusty. Without Dusty, I could not continue to do what I do.
- My son. Although I received this gift more than a decade ago, he’s the gift that keeps on giving. Dexter is not just my son, he’s my friend. For a thirteen-year old boy, he’s incredibly loving, gracious and intuitive. He gets it, making my job as a parent so much easier and enjoyable. Dex asks for nothing, so when I shower him with love, he appreciates it sincerely.
- My friends and family. I know it’s cliche, but it’s true. Friends and family keep us warm. I am always amazed by the unsolicited generosity of my friends, you know who you are. Being able to count on friends for help, is unmeasurable. I know that if I fall, someone will be there to catch me. This gives me comfort like nothing else. Spending time with friends and family is a gift for everyone involved. The warmth and love I receive, refuels my heart, mind and soul so I can go on to face what comes next.
- Life. Having spent a little time in the cancer arena, I am so grateful to be able to see Dexter grow up. Life is short.
Life is pain…. but suffering is optional. I’ve chosen to limit my suffering.
Although I have physical pain, it’s the mental pain that’s kept me down in the past. That pain comes from wanting and not receiving. By wanting nothing, I eliminate that kind of pain. When I do receive a gift, it feels like a warm blanket wrapped around my heart.
Although this year has been riddled with challenges, I am happy to still be moving, loving and living…. best gift ever.