‘Tis the most ____________ time of the year.
Whatever you call it, this is the time of year, more than any other, that people start thinking about how they will “gift” their money. And how can you help it? Just as the Thanksgiving leftovers are being wrapped in saran and refrigerated, Christmas trees start popping up in store windows all over the city like umbrellas on a rainy day. And everybody knows Christmas trees are festively cloaked foreshadowings of empty wallets. So, in keeping with the festive tradition – armed with a Starbucks eggnog latte in one hand and credit cards in the other – we begin walking off one turkey/tofurky coma in preparation for the next in search of the perfect gifts.
Some people have been opting out of going to brick-and-mortar buildings, altogether, to do their holiday shopping. They favour buying gifts online instead. I’ve done it. And I like it. It does lend itself to the likelihood of the blank above being filled with “wonderful” rather than “stressed”. Even moreso when at my side I have my favourite pottery mug steaming with aromatic peppermint tea instead of trying to grip a red-and-white foam-topped paper cup in my already full, shopping-bag-laden hands. Yes, it does reduce the level of stress somewhat. But there’s still the challenge of finding that perfect gift.
As I’ve laboured year after year over the task of finding the “perfect gift” – whether online or at the mall – so everyone on my list will be happy, I’ve come to a sobering conclusion: Happiness in our little corner of the world is measured in moments, and moments are fleeting. Fifty bucks says there’ll be something better available next month. Next week, even. And then the hard-earned happy will begin to fade (if it hadn’t started to already by then). So I’ve decided that, sure, those are good gifts and I’ll probably keep buying some of them. But the most perfect gifts I can give are those that don’t just benefit the physically present, momentarily happy recipient of the quantifiable item.
No matter how or where or when I shop, no matter what I buy or how happy my choice of gift makes someone, I’ve come to realize that there is only one kind of gift that will ever be truly perfect; one kind of gift that will outshine even all the Boxing Week specials. And that’s a gift that’s been given with the promise of hope attached.
Hope is unquantifiable. It’s elusive. It’s not easily defined. But it’s the stuff life is made of. Without it … Well, just think about the implications for a minute. (Or simply reach for the nearest dystopian novel and give it a quick scan. That’ll give you a pretty good picture.)
We can easily give lasting gifts that have the promise of hope attached. We can provide survivors of sex trafficking and/or those living in poverty with an income, education, and dignity. We can help provide a means to break their cycle of poverty; provide a stepping stone for them to climb above their dystopianesque lifestyle and have hope for a future. What could possibly be a more perfect gift? And you can bet your fuzzy red Christmas stocking that a gift like that won’t be obsolete by next week.
Whether you’re planning on firing up your PayPal account or are preparing to dive into the masses at the malls, when you make your decisions about how you will gift your money this year please consider including some lasting gifts of hope on your list. Here are a few links to get you started:
The truly perfect gift is just a click away.