Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom
My girlfriend R stopped by my house two days before Christmas, looking mighty cross. She started spewing about how aggravated she was to be buying gifts for her many family members “just to be buying them something.” Her family is Jewish, and they celebrate Hanukkah as well. She’d tried to tell her brother that they shouldn’t exchange gifts, but his response was “Too late. I’ve already bought you something.” In addition, they don’t drawn names or limit giving to children, so everyone is giving a gift to everyone! R was definitely not feeling the holiday spirit. Here is the advice I gave to her:
First of all, you have to do what you’ve always done this year. Hanukkah is already over, and Christmas is in two days. You can’t change the rules now.
Beginning in January, though, you need to talk to your family about how you want to change your traditions. Maybe you should only do Christmas or only do Hanukkah. You could include Jews in Christmas or gentiles in Hanukkah – celebrate the holiday that works best, religiously and culturally, for your family.
Next you need to decide who you want to give to. R already gives charitable gifts to her parents. A donation to Heifer International for her dad and the elephant sanctuary in Tennessee for her mother. Maybe all her gifts should be charity; maybe she doesn’t want to continue with charitable gifts every year. In addition, she needs to think about the extended family that’s accustom to getting gifts from her: her brother, sister-in-law, their children, as well as her husband’s siblings, spouses, and their children, plus others who might be on “Santa’s” list. Does she want to eliminate all giving to adults? Draw names? Only donate to charity? Eliminate giving to everyone?
However, I also cautioned R that she can only control herself, her giving, her pocket book. She cannot force her siblings or in-laws to comply with her wishes. She can think through how she would like the gift-giving traditions in her families to evolve and make proposals. She can state firmly and clearly what she’s willing to do, but she can’t force others to bend to her will.
Today’s the day to begin this conversation: The holidays are fresh on everyone’s minds, and other people might be feeling the fiscal, temporal or environmental stress of having overbought, as well. Starting the conversation well in advance, so no one is surprised by a sudden change in tradition, is the kindest gift of all.
Today’s Mini Mission
Declutter something that you have way too many of than you really need. This could be cutlery, crockery, glassware, craft supplies, stationery items, tool, jewellery pieces, shoes etc.
Eco Tip for the Day
Here’s one way to save paper. Write your grocery list on the fridge with a whiteboard marker and then photograph it with your cell phone and take that with you when you go shopping.
It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow.