Christmas shopping was once an activity we invested great thought in. Just a couple of decades ago, before the era of high-street retail-chain roll-out and online shopping, selecting gifts for our loved-ones that held some kind of sentiment was essential.
Nowadays, the idea of buying a meaningful gift has changed dramatically, and seasonal gift shopping has turned into a tiresome and nightmarish chore.Starved of time and ideas, we end up with a pile of nicely wrapped quick-fix options that, more often than not, fail to show that we care.
Still, this time of the year can provide an opportunity to reconnect when, over the course of a stressful year, our relationships with those closest to us may have come under pressure.
Spending time rather than money can seem like a challenge for those of us with busy lifestyles, but with both financial and lifestyle changes affecting the way we gift, is it such an outlandish idea to kick the consumer habit and take things back to basics?
As retailers fill their windows with luxurious, vibrant displays of products we think we need, this time try walking past without looking. There is a gift that exists that places value above price, and re-establishes bonds that have perhaps been lost.
A gift that no one else will experience sounds too good to be true, but you’ll find that your time is that miraculous gem unavailable in even the most glittering stores.
Her emotional strength has no limits. Mothers show unconditional love, but our growing independence takes us away from the person who has instilled us with our core values. Reconnecting with her means reconnecting with yourself, and more often than not, this is your most precious gift.
Put together a scrapbook of special memories … Cook her ‘famous’ dish … Make scented oils and fragrances
Love comes in many forms, but Dad’s is in his strength. When you were small, he carried you when you were tired; he assembled your new desk; he always stayed calm in a crisis. Fathers tap into a different kind of strength when it comes to their children. Having their children reciprocate paves the way for a deeper bond.
Make a doorstop … Bake a bread-basket … Go fishing together
The real pillars of wisdom in the family, grandparents offer insights you just can’t find anywhere else. Full of life lessons and old-fashioned skills, Allan Frome captures their essence perfectly when he says: ‘Being grandparents sufficiently removes us from the responsibilities so that we can be friends.’
Get Gran to teach you how to knit … Master an old board game together … This time, really listen to those old stories
Inseparable when younger, confrontational when older, we sometimes lose that connection with our siblings as life takes us in different directions. The power of quality time enables us to see that when you look beneath it all, this relationship is far deeper than those identities are poles apart.
Have a spa day at home … Play a sport they love … Go hiking together, or for a really long walk
When we were younger, we wanted to grow up. As adults, we treasure the opportunity to reconnect with our inner child. The younger generation allows us to sustain an active imagination, explore our creativity and even build on our dreams through simple play time. The attachment and bonds created through their way of seeing give us new perspectives, and can even inspire us to rethink our own future.
Teach them a new skill … Go for a treasure hunt adventure in the park … Have a picnic in the living room
They know your secrets, they’ve shared those big moments growing up and they’re ready to plan the years ahead with you in mind. Building on that unique relationship and adding more memories to laugh over is something we do every day – but it’s the more emotionally connected memories that are the most profound.
Make jewellery trees … Customise clothing … Help them clear out that garage or wardrobe
We see them every day, but how connected are we, really, to the people within our own community? Each person has come from a different walk of life, and has something unique to offer. Establish new bonds through mutual interests, and you may find strangers turning into friends.
Volunteer at an animal shelter … Grow organic food at the local allotment … Go out carol-singing … Make jars of jam for the elderly
First published in Sublime Magazine Issue 24/2010