And if your December is starting out like mine, the amount of STUFF we're bombarded with, all urging us to buy Buy BUY! so we can get, Get, GET! is overwhelming.
When I was 16, the only money I had to buy gifts for anyone was money I got from my parents, which made me feel really powerless during the holidays, and also put all the focus on what I'd GET.
So, in the spirit of EMPOWERING you...
I propose, instead, let's think about GIVING, which in an amazing way ends up being a gift for us, too. (I once spent an entire semester in a college course on the question "If it feels good when you're helping someone else, is there really such a thing as altruism (where you're giving and it doesn't benefit you at all)?"
The answer, for me, ended up being... Who cares? Maybe we're wired to feel good when giving, and like tax breaks for donating to charity, it's a system that's set up to encourage doing good.
Either way, here are my suggestions of three things to GIVE, perfect for Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, any Pagan Winter ceremonies you might want to fete, and, of course, New Years! And they're all FREE!
SOMETHING FOR THE EARTH
Okay, in the last 7 days, we've gotten almost 100 catalogs in the mail (no joke) for stuff that really, truly, I have no interest in even flipping through. From Fur-appliqued Christmas Tree Ornaments to Wine and Processed-Cheese-Spread Baskets, from expensive folding Victorian-style chairs to eight inch diameter fabric flower brooches, (and these were just the images on four covers!) there's arguably something for everyone...
except I don't want it.
Now, I'm not going all scrooge-y on you, and I do order stuff online and from catalogs, but the excess is... well, excessive.
We recycle the catalogs, but I'd rather not get them in the first place. But I also don't have the time to start calling each company to try to get off their mailing lists. So, check this out:
Catalog Choice lets you enter in the name and customer ID# from the catalog you've got that you don't want to get any more, and you'll stop getting them in the mail!
Ahh, something for the Earth, just like that. And it didn't cost a thing. (And hey, if you're living at home with your parents and not really getting your own 100 catalogs a week that you don't want, doing the catalog thing for THEM - check first on the ones they don't want anymore - would probably be a fantastic gift!)
SOMETHING FOR SOMEONE ELSE
Volunteering is a way to pull out of our own heads and help someone else. It also feels great. There are shelters, food pantries, GLBTQ community centers and organizations with volunteer needs, older people who need a hand, frazzled parents who need someone to play with the baby, friends who need help with a project, cookies to bake, cards to make, dogs to walk, packages to help carry, tourists who need their photo taken, holiday songs to sing...(and really, no one cares if they're sung off-key, it's the joy in doing it that matters!)
the list of ways to volunteer, small and large, goes on and on.
Challenge yourself to do one thing for someone else this week- even if it's something small, like giving someone an I.O.U. note for shoveling their front walk after the next snowstorm - and then doing it when it snows.
You can even ask someone you'd like to help, what you can do...
Giving someone an hour of your time to help them doesn't cost a penny - and it's a way to really FEEL the spirit of the holidays come alive.
SOMETHING FOR YOU
Now I'm not talking about the diamond industry's promotional campaign that your left hand ring finger is for your wedding/engagement diamond, and that your right hand ring finger is for the diamond YOU buy for yourself. (yeah, really - that's what they're pitching.)
What I AM talking about is giving yourself the gift of...
Take the time this week to do something for YOU. Again, this doesn't need to cost a cent! Make the time to:
go for winter walk
take yourself ice skating
do a yoga class
dance by yourself to five of your favorite songs
make a list of 50 things you love
read a book with a GLBTQ Teen character
Yeah. Read one of the books on this blogsite - a book that's going to make you feel like the world's at your feet - that the possiblities are endless, and there's a place for you at the amazing buffet of life... Because there is!
Look at the books listed here. Click through. Choose one. Go to the library. Grab it at a bookstore. Borrow one from a friend.
Most of all, BE the person you ARE - that's the greatest gift you can ever give yourself.
So try out these gift ideas. Take the challenge to do something for the earth, something for someone else, and something for yourself!
All three gifts are free, but (to riff on a credit card ad) they'll make this holiday season PRICELESS!
ps- If you have any great suggestions or examples of these kinds of gifts, sharing those ideas with others is a gift in itself! Share your gift in "comments!"