We are trying to ‘Un-consume in 2018’, as part of a group set up by Catherine Lloyd,
The holidays over and as February looms, I’m more pushed for time and feel burdened by routine. My goal of offering gifts that count, but don’t cost is a challenge. In spite of some clear successes, I can’t say I think I’ve ‘got it’ yet: the art of giving is hard to master.
Let’s start with what went right: I’m in a department store café with my daughters and joke to the lady next to me that she’s nicked the last baked potato, (which she had!) … as they leave, smiling, my eldest asks me, ‘how do you do that? …Make friends so easily?’ Touched, I love her for reflecting back a little bit of me so positively. It means a lot and at that moment I realise that, like her, I carry an easy capacity to compliment. What wonderful, feel-good giving for free!
There have, of course, also been failures. The error in question was an attempted ‘gift’ of time’ … well-intentioned, yet wrapped in my own values and needs, with insufficient thought as to the recipient’s own position. Result: a loaded, coded package that made them feel obligated.
It was returned unopened.
I have agonised over this, probably too much, definitely too long. But I’m a brooder … that’s what we do.
Commitment to the sometime painful emotional process we hope will be worth the gain is tough. I need to work out what went wrong and I guess it was something like this: you make beautiful, home-made biscuits, you bake them with love, yet if you offer them to someone allergic to the ingredients, you’re unlikely to hit the spot. This was my mistake in offering time to a busy person.
When I think about it now, I was primarily trying to service my own need. I value spending time and feel deeply appreciated and valued when people spend time with me. This doesn’t mean inviting someone to spend time with me when I am less busy, even offered with every good intention, will come across as a gift to them, whether or not they share my values hierarchy.
It is not just Christmas that has been commodified, it is giving in general. However, as I have said before, stepping away from it is complex. Hurt at what I perceived as rejection, I have beaten myself up over and over for my stupidity. Yet I am, at the same time, aware that emotional deficit is no starting point for giving. That easy capacity to compliment needs to start at home … if we are to get it right, we should forget martyrdom. We must first be very, very kind to ourselves I think.