The art of giving

It’s only a little bit more than two weeks until christmas. Yesterday I was downtown looking for some stuff and recognized one thing: people actually seem to hate christmas. They look grumpy, they shout around and compensate all of this with too much punch. They are stressed by the fact that they have to find superduper presents for their family and friends, of all the parties and drink invitations and besides this, they are almost afraid of the holidays, because they mean family procedures, endless parties, cooking, cleaning, screaming kids….

But hey – stop! Shouldn’t it be more than alcohol and stress? Shouldn’t it be more of making people happy and having a good time?

7 years ago my mom died in November. So it was clear that it would be a sad christmas. I took a step back and thought about all the craziness going on around me. And decided to change it.

I really love selecting presents and making people happy with it. For me, the best present definitely doesn’t have to be the most expensive one. It is the one that requires a little bit of thinking, of remembering good times together, of knowing a person. So I started present idea lists for all the people I really like. Whenever I stumble over something cool or get a nice idea, I open the notepad on my iphone and write it down. So whenever I need a present, it may be for christmas, birthday or whatever, I just have take a look (if I don’t know a nice gift anyways). Today I made 15 St. Nicholas bags for my colleagues. I tried to find something they love to eat for everyone and will hide it in their stuff tomorrow. I think, a little gift is nice during a long day, right?

What helps a lot is that I am a creative person and it’s not a boring task for me. Nowadays people even ask me for help if they need a present for someone and don’t know what. Sometimes a small thing on the table of a colleague, in a friend’s bag or in the back of a car makes them smile and can change a whole day.

For christmas, I try to build an island of silence at home in my flat. I always have a christmas tree. Without it it wouldn’t be the same. I start decorating it on 23rd and place all the presents of all people underneath. Then I take a picture to remember each year. I listen to all the crazy christmas pop songs during doing it, I just love that once a year. I clean the flat and make it very cosy with candles, tea and cookies (the rest of it, usually my Vanillekipfal are given away already ;-)). On 24th (as we in Austria celebrate on this day), I enjoy a good breakfast and then it’s family time. We are not many anymore but there are some rituals including visiting the cemetery and some people we hardly see. We have dinner together and open the presents. Some drinks and chats, enjoying the time. If any arguments arise – I either try to calm people down or I just leave.

On 25th I either spend the day with my family or -if I have one- with my boyfriend. Some years ago, usually I was invited to my mother in law’s place. This year maybe I’ll organize a little christmas day for some friends. What is important for me is that I don’t feel too much obligation to be somewhere and I also don’t want people to feel that when I invite them.

Maybe you try this too. You don’t have to change everything completely. But maybe you find the pleasure of making people happy again and so your christmas will be also more cheerful. Take a step back and don’t let the madness stress you. Smile to everyone who is grumpy and hectic. Because this is they way it should be. Nothing more, nothing less.

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