Giving of Yourself
By Linda Miklowitz
So many holiday gifts, within hours of emerging from gift wrapping, go to the back of the closet or a corner of the garage—and stay there.
We may have run up a big balance on the credit card at the mall or some specialty local store, but the recipient and the gift just did not click.
A possible solution to try this year: give more of ourselves. Many of these ideas will be lighter on our bank accounts, but they may be more demanding in terms of time. They will likely show people who we like that we care about them.
First, assess your talents, skills and favorite activities. Not all of these ideas can be done by everyone.
- Take care of friends’ children so their parents can go out for several hours, maybe even a weekend.
- Till, sow, weed, or harvest a friend’s garden.
- Clean a friend’s swimming pool. If you don’t know how, shadow the friend doing it.
- Make household repairs you can do safely and well.
- Tutor in subjects you have mastered. Give lessons in golf or tennis. Arrange a hike or camping trip to a favorite spot. Give a canoe, kayak or sailboat tour of a favorite river or beach.
- Prepare a dinner or teach a cooking class or sushi-rolling session. Conduct a wine or beer tasting.
- Wash, wax or vacuum a friend’s car. Clean a house (it’s usually easier when it’s not your own). Sweep from your friend’s roof the leaves that cause leaks.
Once you have decided on your service, get some cards and envelopes (the blank computer greeting cards work well) and some color pens to make certificates. (Hint: to avoid these commitments hanging over your head for the rest of your life, and maybe your estate, you could get legalistic and put in an expiration date.)
If these ideas seem too much of a commitment, there are other alternative gifts that require only a checkbook. You can visit a number of alternative markets and buy your favorite peeps a heifer or farming tools for a Third-World village or plant trees in their honor. The best part of an alternative gift is that it makes both the giver and receiver think more about the spirit of giving and less about the material gift.