Your Christmas Gift This Year

It may be like spitting on a forest fire this holiday season to avoid the consumer/gift/holiday shopping traps that marketing and social expectations heap on us.

All I can say about this is to be aware of the persuasive impact of advertising, be reasonable in your gift purchases, and make sure to buttress the consumerism with goodwill.

Toward that last item, let me suggest a gift you can give those who are near and dear to you:

After all the food has been consumed and the presents have been distributed and opened, pull out an envelope and hand it to someone you care about. When they open it, they’ll see a small, simple card with a word on it, say, for example, ‘coffee’. Or a color photo of a coffee cup.

The person you’ve given the envelope and card to will have no idea what the gift means. So you’ll have to explain it. You’ll say, for example, ‘Uncle Joe, I know I’ve been really busy this past year and we haven’t had the time to spend together that we should have. So my gift to you this year is that we’re going to meet for coffee twice a month and catch up, just the two of us. Merry Christmas.’

Then, you give that gift to that person for all of 2019.

The challenge with this gift is that, first, it’s not a material thing. Second, it requires you to think about what you could really, truly give to someone, that they would really appreciate, and that you both need. Three, it can’t be self-serving, which is to say, you can’t invite your Aunt Mildred to have a Guinness at the local pub every week, which sounds like a gift I would like to give to an aunt, or any relative for that matter (infants exempted).

The card with the ‘gift’ on it is the present for the other person. It is also the contract for you. Honor it. The thing you’re going to do for the other person is an action: a commitment of time, attention, and effort. There are no refunds, exchanges, or returns. Only performance.

So give it a shot and let us all know what you came up with and how it went over. Happy holidays!

  • BGT

24 thoughts on “Your Christmas Gift This Year

  1. My widowed father-in-law lives alone, never learned to cook, and happens to love sugar cookies. My youngest decided her gift this year would be to bake and decorate cookies just for Grandpa. There is nothing she could buy at the store he would appreciate as much as knowing she took the time to make something just for him. She plans to present her gift to Grandpa and then have teatime with him. I have no doubt, it will be his favorite Christmas gift hands down. Especially for our older relatives, spending time with them really is the most precious gift we have to give them.

  2. This gift of “Committed Time” is both rewarding and welcoming to both recipients and I look forward to the experience; thank you for the idea.

  3. We don’t do gifts at all. Our kids take the grandkids and do a fun trip. We’re in Dallas (land of MAJOR, needless consumption), so they load the kids up and rent a cabin in the snowy mountains of Colorado. Dad cooks gourmet meals for them all week, they hike, ski, read books and play family games around the fire. As for Grandma (that’s me) and Granddad, we also do ‘experiences’. This year it’s a heart potato soup around the dining room table, then bundling up for a hayride to see Christmas lights. Then back to my house for Christmas cookies and a hot chocolate bar.

  4. I’ve been doing variations on that idea since my broke college days. It has always gone over well with the recipient.
    Merry Christmas Mr. Tully; looking forward to your new book showing up on Amazon.

  5. Agree, wonderful suggestion. And I also like Kathie’s idea of family outing in snowy Colorado. That sounds so much nicer than watching everyone tear through packages. I’m going to keep that in mind. Thank you Byron and Kathie. Merry Christmas, Byron. Hope you and all your readers have a memorable holiday that represents a “commitment of time, attention, and effort.”

  6. Very thoughtful, Byron. Especially for people who no longer have the energy, taking care of certain tasks around the house can be very helpful. Still, one can also show effort when buying a simple object, for instance a particular edition of a book (e.g. vintage leather bound).

    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  7. Well, kids are on way to cabin in Colorado, but here’s my update on the Family Hayride – it was a HUGE hit! This experience will probably now become a family tradition.

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