Is it me, or did “black Friday” seem kind of insane this year? I personally did not participate, but I did watch a few clips of the craziness that unfolded during the 24-48 hours post Thanksgiving. It was disheartening to say the least.
That being said, I’ve been thinking a lot about the gift giving tradition that comes with the Holidays. As much as I love giving and receiving gifts, I have become a bit turned off by the whole holiday consumerism madness. There is a desperation in the air, a sense of urgency and even rage among today’s holiday shoppers. When people are being tasered and even killed on “black Friday”, we have to realize as a society that there is something very very wrong here. Why are people so angry? Aren’t the holidays supposed to be about family, gratitude, reflection and resolutions? Why does it seem as though bargain hunting and gift giving has taken precedence to the true meaning of Christmas (or Hanukkah).
When we practice yoga or meditate, we take deep breaths, slow down, set an intention and practice mindfulness. I think, in some ways, we should start shopping in the same way we practice yoga.
Being present (pardon the pun) and practicing Ahimsa (non-harming) should be an important step in your holiday shopping. Take into consideration the consequences of the purchase you are about to make. Many discount items sold in places like Target and Wal-Mart end up costing much more than we realize. Many of these “discounted” items are made in China (seriously, almost everything is made in China), often using child labor. Many of the employees at these stores that are being forced to work crazy hours are making below minimum wage and can barely support themselves, while the CEO’s are reaping the benefits of this cheap labor. Think about the processing that is involved in the product you are about to purchase. Manufacturing plants are one of the main culprits in global warming. When you purchase inexpensive leather, suede, down or wool, know that there is an incredible amount of suffering that comes to the millions of animals that are harvested specifically for making these items. I can go on and on, but I can already see how depressing this is sounding so I’ll stop for now…..I’m assuming you’re getting the point.
I’m not suggesting we should end all holiday shopping and gift giving. But what we can do is shop differently….shop mindfully. Rather than buying cheap, meaningless items just because they’re cheap, seek items that make a real difference in the world. Buy from companies that donate percentage of their profits to charity. Purchase things that are manufactured in an environmentally friendly way. Support local business. Buy vegan products. Donate to your favorite charity in your loved ones name. Give the gift of experience (yoga classes, cooking classes, weekend getaway). Give something homemade (jewelery, scarf, body oils and scrubs, cookies). And most importantly, give the gift of time, spending time (minus cell phones) with loved ones is by far the greatest gift I could ask for.
I think that for most of us, when we receive something from our loved ones, it’s the thoughtfulness that matters most, not how expensive or trendy it is. So when seeking that perfect gift, do so in a loving and thoughtful way. Imagine how much happier the receiver would feel knowing that your purchase made a global impact, even if it’s just a small one. And in turn, their genuine happiness will bring you happiness, and like a domino effect, that joy will continue to spread.
“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” ~ Nelson Mandela
Here are a few thoughtful gift ideas for you to consider……..Happy Holidays!!!
Companies like Vegan Cuts, Conscious Box, Green Kid Crafts & Nature Box help you give the gift that keeps on giving with thoughtfully put together monthly care packages.
Keep your loved one’s warm and still be green. Today, coat manufacturers like North Face, Vaute Couture and Patagonia are using synthetic insulation materials that are far superior than down, plus their manufacturing methods and materials are environmentally friendly.
To read more about down alternatives, click here.
Ton’s of websites offer earth friendly, locally made unique gifts. Skipping the madness of the mall and doing your Christmas shopping quietly at home in your PJ’s, coffee in hand (or champagne!) sounds great to me!
Click on the picks to see my favorites!
Making a charitable donation to a cause in your loved ones name is not only incredibly chic, but inspires others to think outside the Christmas box as well! Research local charities, or check out some of the charities guides below:
The best (and least expensive gift) is spending time with friends and family. Invite them to give back to your local community through volunteering.