Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The greatest gift of all

December is a fabulous time to be in South Africa. Popularly called the festive season, there are some interesting traditions around. It’s the height of summer and the rainy season when on most days the intense heat is punctured by beautiful thunderstorms.

It’s also the season when people take a full month off and go home, out of the cities, to spend time with their loved ones. So, in December, Urban spaces, usually bustling with activity, become tranquil havens of clear roads, no queues and basking weather. This welcome lull comes after the frenzied spending sprees of everything from trinkets to groceries for the families ‘back home’.

As in many other countries, December is the time for giving whether you are celebrating Christmas or not. Gifts come in all shapes and sizes, be they shop-bought gifts or heart-made gifts.

Gifts bring joy! You see it on people’s faces –they are more expansive, smile more and you can literally feel the heart-swell of loving energy. It’s a beautiful experience which demonstrates the universal principle of giving and receiving. Through giving, we are all elevated to a higher sense of joy and happiness. The energy is palpable. It’s a shame we’re not able to share the lurve on a sustained basis.

It’s no secret that gift-givers are feeling the pinch more than ever this year. The plastic is not so flexible anymore and cash is in short supply. So, inevitably, we are forced to make choices. Buy less and give less? How so? Surely there’s a way we can buy less and give more?

The Jamaican community living in Johannesburg have decided to gather together on Boxing Day (26 December) and give heart-gifts of love to children in a shelter. Remembering that it takes a community to raise a child, the gesture highlights the plight of children whose parents are not there to give them life’s heart-gifts.

On considering gifts and all things material, how is it that so many fall unwittingly, into the trap of buying gifts to make themselves and the receivers happy? Will the credit crunch leave you feeling empty or unfulfilled because you weren’t able to buy what you’d hoped to give?

Love Gifts
It’s like eating chocolate – giving gifts lifts you to a temporary happy high. For many, not being able to give gifts is akin to sucking lemons. Why so? What happened to your love gifts? What is the greatest gift parents can give to their children? We’ve heard the answer love. Yes, but let’s scratch beneath the surface love of, love to, love for; all of the above?

Surely, the greatest gift from parent to child is a sense of purpose through service? By using our special gifts, we are able to give endlessly to the world by actively defining our life purpose. Let’s not wait till life begins at 40 to claim this gift! Package it, wrap it and unwrap it with your children. The more you give, the bigger it becomes, truly, the greatest gift of all.

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