Despite your best intentions, it’s a time of year at which it’s hard not to get swept up in a whirlwind of feeling as though you should be buying loads of, well, stuff. Gifts for others, food for the fridge, wrapping paper and Christmas cards. It can sometimes seem as though spending money is obligatory during the twelfth month of the year.
In fact plenty of shops depend on their December trade to make up for sometimes lacklustre sales the rest of the year, and you and I – or at least our wallets – are in their sights.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not a ‘no presents’ kind of guy. Like many, I enjoy giving and receiving Christmas gifts.
But I think I’d propose two provisos.
The first is to keep the scale of what you buy within reason. Too much can be overwhelming for both the recipient and the giver, not to mention stressful on the bank balance.
The second is rather more subtle, but it’s something I’ve very much been aware of over the past few weeks. To my mind, one of the very best things you can give people is your attention and time, especially when that attention is undivided.
It’s been brought home to me when Alex and I stop what we’re doing to properly focus attention on her two daughters.
They’re both into gymnastics right now, and really love us sitting down to watch as they demonstrate their rapidly-developing skills.
Also, like most other kids their age they get very absorbed in their laptops, but this doesn’t mean they necessarily want to exclude the outside world: they’re genuinely thrilled to sit own and talk us through whichever game or video is currrently tickling their fancy.
I think there’s a danger that we can end up so focused on the commercial aspects of Christmas that we lose sight of the one thing that anyone, no matter their wealth, can give to others.
Between now and the 25th, please remember to spend proper time with those around you who’ll appreciate it most. Lavishing your attention generously and unselfishly has the wonderful effect of delighting both the object of your focus – and you.