Like all good things that eventually get totally out of control, the Holidays started with the best of intentions.
Reuniting with friends and relatives during the middle of winter gave way to holiday traditions – like special meals and gift giving.
But, somewhere along the way (during the 80s, actually), the tradition of holiday gift giving became a sport – beginning with a thing we all know as “Black Friday.” In a short span of about 30 years, the concept of gifting changed drastically. What was once a token of thoughtfulness has become a sad war of excessive consumption.
Like TBS airing A Christmas Story on repeat, we’re stuck in a cycle of buying and obligation. It was an endearing tradition in the beginning – but our collective nostalgia has driven us to fabricating an experience built mostly on storming a mall crowded with holiday shoppers, desperately searching for deals on sweaters.
Look, it’s not that I don’t like Christmas – I do.
And it’s not that I don’t like giving and receiving gifts – I definitely do.
I just feel like shouting, “stop the madness!” from the parking lot of South Coast Plaza. Because, you can’t tell me that Black Friday tasings aren’t total madness.
But … what if we could reframe what we hold so dear about holiday nostalgia by starting something new? What if we could find a new tradition that satisfies so much more than stockpiling holiday gifts?
That tradition I’m talking about is giving – but not in a wrapped up in holiday paper sort of way (of course, you can still keep that; I’m not a total Scrooge). No, what I’m talking about is focusing on giving outside of your regular gift circle.
It’s during this time of year that Goodwill of Orange County needs your donations the most. And the easiest way for you to help out is by donating your unwanted wares. We’re talking clothing, household items, electronics – anything in your home you’re not using that someone else could put to use.
You can even donate cash – financial donations to Goodwill of Orange County can be in any denomination you like. In fact, you can even donate when you shop with Amazon. When you visit http://smile.amazon.com and select Goodwill of Orange County as your preferred non-profit, Amazon will donate 0.5% of your eligible Amazon Smile purchases.
But, back to giving, when you focus on non-reciprocal giving, something magical happens.
First, you clear the clutter from your home. You only need to watch one episode of Hoarders to know how destructive excess stuff can be. And maybe you’re nowhere near a televised clutter intervention, but it’s common sense that letting go of unwanted possessions lifts an emotional burden from your shoulders.
Also, when you donate goods to Goodwill of Orange County, you set a sterling example for the young people in your life. As we hurtle toward digital domination, empathy is becoming a foreign concept with youngsters. When children participate in the act of selflessly giving to their community, they learn about the diversity of circumstance. In other words, you teach them to think of others’ needs in addition to their own.
And, about those gifts you plan on getting for your loved ones – when you focus on giving to your community, holiday gifts for loved ones just cosmically fall into place (you can also shop for those at Goodwill, by the way).
Trust me. It’s karma – or Christmas magic – whatever you like to call it. Think of it this way: your new tradition of giving away what you no longer need will make the harrowing quest for “the perfect gift” become a thing of the past.