It’s just a thought exercise, and probably a bit late now. I wasn’t even relating it to the recent festivities, though it was no coincidence I’m sure, because it involves gifts and materialism.
I know, I know! This will probably cause some people to jump up and down, with thoughts like “I ALREADY DO THAT” running loudly through their minds. I’m not as clever or as intuitively good as some people though, and it’s MY thought experiment, so I’ll continue.
Just a thought
It probably says something about me and how unpracticed I am at thinking this way that I had to struggle to come up with my paltry list of non-material free gifts. And I also realise, despite what I said in the last paragraph, that most of us do this anyway, and not just in this season.
We are essentially kind and altruistic – each in our own way – to those we know and like. At least we are capable of it even if we don’t always practice it. We’ll even extend it a bit to those we don’t know, with the gift of charity.
The list of material advantages would be long; less stress, less financial burden, less time spent shopping (with all its attendant pressures). I won’t even mention the waste involved in wrapping (we’ll I just did), or the worry about having got it right or forgetting someone.
It’s just dawned on me that there’s another advantage with these free gifts; they are good for the environment! No wrapping, no un-degradable plastic, and no carbon footprint.
I guess the kids might kick up a fuss if, instead of the latest Star-Wars gizmo or techno-whizz-gadget, they were given compliments, shown graciousness or presented with sympathy or acceptance. Apart from that though I can’t see a single disadvantage to a non-material gift-giving time.
Coming back to the topic of my thought experiment. If the idea seems like too much to take on in one go (maybe you fear people will take advantage of your good nature), you can try it a bit ast a time. For example, you could offer these free gifts to people you meet on certain days, or at certain events. Start small and see how it where it takes you…
Another worry is around sincerity. Like any gift, the spirit in which it is given is all-important. If your offer of say, kindness or compassion is made in the wrong spirit, then it’ll problby be regarded with suspicion, or rejected.
These free gifts are a bit like seasoning; it doesn’t take much salt to make a big difference to how a dish tastes, but if you overdo it people will soon tell you.
As I said, it’s a thought experiment. If it worked it would give us all a gift we already treasure: kindness.
I’d be glad to hear what you think if you’d be kind enough to post a comment below.