Tis the Season for gift-giving, so naturally I have some advice ! Although I have no intention of contradicting last year’s post The Art of Giving this year’s suggestions are a bit different. You see, these gifts can’t be bought in a store or wrapped in shiny paper, instead they are all experiential. It is my belief that experience is the best gift of all, and perhaps the most important…
Also, this year I grouped my gift-giving ideas in age groups, so you can read with your particular family and friends’ needs in mind.
I am purposely skipping babies, which includes everyone under five. Sorry, but these little people just need all the love and nourishment and family they can get. And that should constitute their every-day all-year long, right? Play with them, laugh with them, show them the world is filled with wonder but most of all enjoy them. They will grow up in a flash.
So let’s tackle gift-giving for children first. I recommend with elementary age children you play against the stereotype. What better way to cause a renaissance, an invigorating regeneration of our world, than with our children!?! Truly, this simple gift-giving just might save our planet! It’s always a temptation to get the little boy on your list another ball to kick or hit or throw. But why not sign him up for a Saturday afternoon ceramics class? Molding wet clay into something ornate and useful just might direct our young boys into visualizing and henceforth creating a saner world. Do not underestimate the reflective and innovative powers one needs in order to create art. He will thank you when his first boss complements his unique problem solving skills. Now, for that little girl on your list, the one who hasn’t gone outside since the temperature dipped below 45 degrees, or since she turned 7, well, she really needs to kick, hit or throw a ball. Let her feel how strong and powerful she can be. Sign her up for a soccer clinic or pee-wee basketball. Something with a team. Someplace were everyone is yelling and screaming and the focus is around how powerful these girls are working with their bodies and minds. She will thank you when her athleticism follows her into her adult life.
Next come teens and young adults 13–26, who can all be grouped together in my book. This group has the same thirst for life, the same legendary drive to see and do it all and boundless energy to make it all happen. However, they can use direction, because this is also an age group that easily gets bogged down sleeping for twelve hours after staying up for two days to master a video game. Gifts for this group, either gender, must remind them of all the passion and potential and possibilities that exist in the world and provide a structure to see it. Top of my list is a travel tour. If your budget is high, adventure abroad programs such as those Broadreach provides for middle level, high school and college age kiddos are life changing. If your budget is bare bones then research scholarship grants– many extracurricular programs are well-endowed and offer generous assistance. If nothing works for you financially, then throw them in your car and drive four hours in any direction. Tell them this day starts a month of Saturday explorations. You will create world citizens if you blow the doors off your young adult’s bedroom and let them glimpse the world beyond their friends and school and town.
My next group is 27 to about 70: everybody who is living on their own, in their own apartment or home, maybe even with a family of their own. This group can use a vacation. This group works hard in our fast-paced, multi-tasking world, with all the worries possible bearing down on them. Send them somewhere, for an afternoon or a week, but a forced break from life is in order. High budget? Find a resort that is all-inclusive and filled with activities that will make the whole crowd happy. Mohonk Mountain House is exactly that type of retreat, offering plenty of recreation for the body and soul all seasons of the year. Low budget? Take their smart phones and hand them a basket with a picnic and tell them to find a tree to lean against for the afternoon while you hold down their fort. Upon their return, their relaxed and de-stressed faces will be all the thanks you need.
Finally, our elders. What more can you give to these sage souls but your attention and time? These folks have rich stories fueled by deep memories, and all they need is someone with the time to listen. Perhaps schedule a weekend where you get together to tour the old neighborhood and glimpse what those faded black & white photos captured years gone by. But along with visiting the old haunts, I would also recommend you and your elder strike out on a new adventure to see a contemporary art exhibit or new stage play. Afterwards, while you sit sharing a late lunch and you hear their critique, I guarantee you will be the one thanking them for the intelligent conversation and delightful afternoon.
Okay, that’s everyone on your list, right? This one world we all inhabit is in need of an overhaul, and it is my belief that by creating artistic and strong children, giving a global awareness to our youth, providing reflective time for our working citizens, and listening to our elder population, we just might be able to make the crucial changes needed for a new world.