Gone are the days of magical gift-giving in my family. Though our holiday celebrations have always emphasized non-religious festivities, a delicate sense of magic could always be felt throughout the house in December. The early darkness, the sparkling lights of evening, the smell of pine wafting up the stairs in the morning, and the anticipation of a day to come which (at least in our minds) would be a near perfect mix of coziness, comforting food, unhurried conversation, and a palpable sense of well-being.
These days our children no longer rush down the stairs to see what is under the tree, or marvel at the mystery of how Santa and his elves somehow manage to deliver all those perfectly chosen and colorfully wrapped packages to so many in so short a time.
Though it’s true that even then, the gifts for grownups were always less than MagicaI, I miss those days. Often we don’t give adults presents. And though I am certainly grateful to have a grandson to indulge, at just under two, it seems he already has everything he could possibly need or desire. By contrast my sons and their peers, having come into peak adulthood in the midst of covid, an insane global and domestic political arena, and an increasingly impossible cost of living, honestly, could use a morale boost.
For these reasons and more, the past two years have given me additional motivation to find and offer gifts to the adults I love. More than ever, I’ll be searching for things that are most likely to make a positive difference, large or small, in their lives. Here are some possibilities I’ve been thinking about.
- For those who would benefit from a daily dose of comfort, perspective and peace, I highly recommend a subscription to the Waking up app: A New Operating System for the Mind. This is not just an app about meditation, it’s a full on-demand menu of rich and varied philosophy and research ( anywhere from 10 seconds to 2 hours long) that offers insight and strategies on how to most effectively cope with our human condition. In my opinion, It stands out from similar options, not just for the variety and quality of the programing, but also because it is not based on unverifiable assumptions such as the ever-popular assumption that the universe is “looking out for us and everything happens for a reason”.
- For those who love to read, books remain a wonderful gift, especially when chosen with an intimate understanding of the reader’s interests and passions. Books also have the added value of allowing you to shop locally and to maximize the enjoyment of finding something uniquely perfect. Locally owned Literati Book Store here in Ann Arbor has an unhurried ambiance and carries an impressively varied selection of titles, making browsing both comfortable and uniquely satisfying.
- For those who sometimes struggle to get things done, one can offer one’s time to help them with either a specific need that’s weighing on them, or with a regular task or event that they struggle to manage on their own.
- In a similar vein, consider offering to accompany one of your more isolated friends to an event that you know will be particularly meaningful to them. Offer some specific possibilities, clear the date with them, get the tickets and be there to share in their joy.
- Offer the gift of movement –along with your time. For this to work you will need to choose something you know is flexible enough to be appropriate to your recipient’s level of mobility as well as your own, because a powerful component of this gift is your presence. I am partial to activities that emphasize full-body, systemic movement such as yoga or dance, but pilates and strength training, for example, may also be beneficial. This can be in-person or via a shared live-Zoom experience. Participating together is a double bonus, it brings accountability to you both, while offering a healthful and enjoyable shared experience with someone you care about.
- For those who have artistic or crafting talents, a lovingly hand-made gift that can be worn or used regularly, will provide an enduring reminder of appreciation.
- Beautiful and ecologically friendly self-care gifts from the Zero Waste Cartel will delight those who enjoy self-care products. The quality is high, and all items are responsibly made. I tried the zero waste shampoo and conditioner bars. They feel and smell so wonderful that washing my hair has become a luxurious event. As an added bonus, the company’s emails include reasonable and practical ideas for becoming more ecologically friendly.
I’ve still got another few weeks, for what will most likely be an updated list. Thanks for reading and regardless of how you celebrate the holidays, may you and those you love be safe, find peace, — and maybe even a little magic.