The Gift of Inspiration: Tips for Holiday Shopping from the Metal Element

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The Gift of Inspiration: Tips for Holiday Shopping from the Metal Element

Stuff, stuff, and more stuff!

OK, so I admit it, I sometimes enjoy shopping. 

Even if I don’t buy anything, it can be fun seeing all the colors, the new designs of things, the cool little handy gizmos that I can use around the house.

But the holiday season takes shopping to a whole other level. 

Typically, I try to avoid the whole thing…the frantic crowds, the shallow focus of our consumerist culture that leaves me feeling frazzled, drained, and disconnected. 

It’s become cliche to say that we are a culture whose values have become quite skewed.  But I will say it anyway to remind us this Metal season of things we can do to stay balanced.

Indeed I believe that our outward focus, and our focus on “things” is partly to blame for our health issues…we forget to focus inside, toward what we really need to feel vibrant, healthy, and valuable.  And the less valuable and the more crappy we feel, the more likely we are to put our focus towards outer fulfillment, which just continues the vicious cycle.

What does the Metal element tell us about all of this, and what tips can it give us for the holiday season?

Before we go into this further, I’d like to share an article I sent you last year over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Choose Family over Frenzy-by Annie Leonard, of The Story of Stuff Project

Tomorrow, in the United States, families and friends will gather around tables large and small to give Thanks together.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays (revisionist history aside). It is two full days during which many of us are liberated from work and school. It comes at a time when the days are getting shorter, trees have lost their leaves and we’re pulling the sweaters out from the back of our overstuffed closets. It’s the perfect time to cozy up and nest with friends and family. And, of course, remembering those who can’t be with us.

Each Thanksgiving, I think of Marie Tellismond. Two years ago on Black Friday, Marie lost her 34 year-old son, Jdimytai Damour. Jimmy-as his friends called him-was trampled to death while trying to protect a pregnant woman from a stampede of bargain shoppers at a New York Walmart.

Now, I’ve never met Marie Tellismond, but as a fellow mother, I am pretty sure she would give anything to have a day with her son again.  Losing, or even coming close to losing someone we love, makes us get our priorities straight really, really fast.

Most of us have a choice this Friday that Marie no longer has.  We can chose to leave the warmth of our beds before dawn, to sit in our cars in a parking lot at some mall and to spend the day searching for low prices on products which we don’t really need and often don’t event want, but getting them is all part of the Black Friday Frenzy.  Or we have a choice to stay put with loved ones, to play board games and eat leftovers and maybe even play a game of football together.

If we’re going to figure out how to build an economy and society that is healthy for people and the planet, this Friday is a good place to start.  Let’s opt out of the frenzy this year.

The Metal element reminds us to focus on what is valuable in our lives…and I mean, deeply valuable…not just the value of our homes, jewelry and possessions. 

Qualities like

  • loyalty
  • faithfulness
  • sincerity
  • togetherness
  • appreciation
  • humor
  • compassion

These are the qualities we can share with each other through the ups and downs of the economy, and through the holiday season which can become busy and harried.

The Metal element asks us to pay attention to the aspects of life that inspire us, and to focus our attention there.  What if we applied that to holiday giving?

Gifts of true Value

1) Time instead of Stuff

Have you ever tried, rather than giving a “thing” over the holidays, to give time together?

  • A home-made certificate for a drive down to Denver to just go to a fabulous hole-in-the-wall restaurant that your friend would love?
  • Or, for example, a day together at a pottery studio where you can make each other mugs glazed in each person’s favorite colors…a memory of your day spent together. 

Time together is one of the “things” that we are so needing in our independent, “me” culture, and the thing that we are born wired for.  Sadly, it’s what is also missing in many of our lives. 

But aren’t our heroes often the people who stood up for others, pulled through for someone else in a circumstance of grave danger?  It’s how we stand up for each other and stake our claim on our humanity that wets our eyes and warms our hearts, creating stories we remember for lifetimes and tell over and over through the years.

2) Express Appreciation

If a day or activity together isn’t realistic or appropriate, what if you were to just sit and meditate on the qualities of each person in your life that you want to gift this year, and write those qualities down that you most appreciate. 

Does a memory come to mind of your most meaningful time together…how you knew that person was someone you could trust no matter what?  Your funnest memory?  What if you were to take the time and really write that story down in a card to them, and include that with their gift. 

That is the kind of depth that the Metal Element is seeking. 

Raw truth.  The grit that makes life real.

3) Let Google inspire a meaningful gift!

If none of these seem appropriate, and you really want to buy them something they’ll love but don’t know what to get, instead of just combing the malls to find a gift that will do, try googling “inspiring gifts for ____”. 

I’ve done that many times and got great, meaningful ideas for history buffs, musicians, golfers, opera fans, artists, etc.  These are gifts I know they will use and that will add value to their lives.

We will soon be leaving the Metal season behind and entering the Water season. 

So as you do your shopping over the next couple weeks, remember to ponder gifts which inspire you and bring value to your lives. 

Hopefully this will leave you less frazzled and harried, and will turn your holiday season into the meaningful and rich time it is supposed to be!