Scroll through a webpage, listen to the radio, or watch your favourite show on television and you will be inundated with advertisements reminding you of the importance of giving gifts to friends and loved ones this holiday season. Regardless of which holiday you choose to celebrate, ‘tis the season of giving!
Throughout history, the practice of giving gifts has been important for many reasons: to symbolize peace and respect toward another nation, to welcome others into a new family circle, or to express appreciation for safe travel over land or water.
In this time of short days and seemingly never-ending darkness, the festivals of light many people choose to celebrate also encourage the exchange of gifts. However, our planet has finite resources and our homes are often already filled with an abundance of material products. How can we reconcile our history of gift-giving and our cultural and societal celebrations with this excessive commercialization?
There is an incredible excitement in opening up a gift, wondering what’s inside the box or bag. However, the greatest excitement in this exchange of gifts is often experienced by the gift-giver. The process of giving involves thinking about the other person in advance, appreciating them as you decide what to make or buy, and then watching their reaction as they open up something that tries to replicate your feelings toward them. But what if the gift you gave wasn’t actually bought or made, but was a gift of yourself?
How can you give of yourself? Kindness, appreciation, gratitude toward others are three key ideas.
- Gratitude – Offer a heartfelt thank you to another person. Not a sing-song “thank-you” but rather stop, look the person in the eyes, and share specifically what you are thankful for: for holding the door, for taking time to help me with my math, for giving up your time to coach my team.
- Kindness – Random acts of kindness are fun to watch, such as Secret Friends, but it is also important to look for ways to directly show kindness and bring light into someone’s day. Read a book to a buddy, help someone with their homework, let someone take a turn on the monkey bars in front of you.
- Appreciation – Through your actions, show you appreciate others: let them decide the rules for a game, try your hardest when working with another person; clean up the classroom and your workspace; give someone another chance when they’ve let you down in the past.
At our ROAR assembly last week, we challenged the students and staff at BICS is to give this gift of feelings – feelings of gratitude, appreciation, and kindness toward our classmates, staff members, parents and community members. During the last fifteen days of school, we are celebrating 15 Days of Kindness. Each class has chosen a day and is deciding what gift they would like to share. We look forward to exchanging gifts of appreciation, kindness and gratitude for the past four months we have shared with one another.