I love the idea of gifts and I love gifting. I love planning experiences for others.
If someone could buy you a gift, what would you want?
Over the weekend my wife was asking me about gifts for the holidays. I’m lucky to have everything I need covered. With so many things out there to choose from, it gave me a bit of an existential feeling of wondering “wait...what is it that I want?” It’s a question that in some way was about my values, and my attention. Where do these wants come from? And which gifts are things that would lack meaning soon after receiving them, versus gifts that truly mean something to me?
Experiences of course are an easier sell. They are a method of longevity and meaning in a gift. If you have something to look forward to, you benefit from the experience before you have it, during, and especially after as a memory or a story.
But I’m not only seeking experiences. I also have a love for material goods. There is so much junk out there that fills up space, though. The goods I care about most have been those items that are connected to another person, an artist, or craftsperson who I know has put great care into their work.
This past weekend I was at Booker Wines, one of the only vineyards in the world that is organic, biodynamic, and fully regenerative. They hire about 1,500 sheep to kill the weeds that protect the plants, removing all pesticides from the process. The owner raises money for children’s charities every year, up to the millions, and donates to the local area. They have incredible and unique wines, often calling them something extremely simple like “white” – which is the name on the label.
I like buying from Booker and being at Booker. Booker makes me feel something and feel connected to that larger story. A product comes from an entire ecosystem of people around it. To experience that ecosystem takes me beyond the feeling I would get from a simple cheap trinket, mass-produced.
A gift like this is a privilege that comes with having the means to support the production and continuation of that ecosystem. But great gifts don’t need to be expensive. My aunt, for example, quilts, or creates memory boxes – organizing materials from someone's entire life into a glass box you hang on your wall. You could do that with repurposed or found materials. To put a gift like this together takes thought intention and time.
Instead of gifts on my side of the family, we donate to charities but with the intention of doing it for another person in the family, based on their interests, or places they’ve been. Giving always feels great and it’s a great default option away from the consumption around the holidays. Inherent in donation is gratitude for what we have. Donations are gifts to others that we hope will benefit or enjoy more than we could.
Other gifts help us express ourselves. Art we hang on our walls, wear tie-dyed socks, or nail polish. These gifts are meant to be used or shown daily and so when we ask for these gifts we’re asking for a different part of us to be expressed more fully.
Checking in on what I want, has me shuffling through the areas in my life that I truly care about. I don’t want just another item that is about translating the feeling of consumption… Christmas used to be like that. The excitement, I think, was more in the feeling of shopping, or consuming. I don’t care at all for that feeling. I want instead for the meaning within the good.
A gift carries a message, a feeling, an experience, a story, and an ecosystem around it. Goods are just a vessel for our self-expression, for an experience with a loved one, or for memories or meaning. Given all of these choices, gifts are about asking what we want to feel more of in our lives.
What feeling do you want? And how can I convey that to you through the perfect gift?
Have an excellent Holiday,
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