Friday, December 21, 2007

Meaningful Gifts

There's a beautiful (and very short) Prophetic saying that encourages gift giving as a form of getting closer. In Arabic, it's "Tahaadu, Tahabbu", which essentially means "give gifts to one another and you will love one another".
It's very simple, and obviously it alone will not make people love one another, but I think it shows how much gifts mean to us as humans. We like being showered with attention and love. We like being given something we weren't expecting, and we like the feeling of knowing someone has thought about us and though about how best to make us happy. All of these are results of being given a gift.
At the same time, I think we've reached a point where sometimes gift giving is taken too far. Sometimes we seem to exchange gifts because it's what's expected, and not because there's actually any love, or need in the exchange. How many of us have spent hours trying to look for something to buy a loved one because an occasion like Eid or Christmas or their birthday is coming up, and they don't really need or want anything? How many of us have ended up buying them something that just sat there just to have bought them a present? I personally would rather get flowers, or a chocolate bar, or a phone call, or sit together and watch a movie then get something I don't need. These are all gifts too, and show that the person who gave them to you remembers and cares.
I heard about another great way of gift giving on the radio this morning. Both Green Peace and the CHF (another great Canadian non-profit) have these programs set up where you can buy a gift on behalf of a family member or friend to either send valuable food stock, or animals, or medical supplies like malaria kits to people in need around the world, or sponsor specific green peace projects. Both of these groups have a catalogue so you can pick the exact gift you want to give, and go with the cause closest to your heart or to whomever you're buying for.
And think how much more valuable contributions to an environmental project, or chicks, or fertilizer, will be to those who need it and to the earth, than a knick knack that sits on your friend's shelf collecting dust until she/he finally decides to donate it to the Goodwill or throw it out.
You can apply the idea to any cause you want by picking an organization that does good humanitarian or environmental work and then donating on behalf of a friend as your gift. Human Concern International is a great option, so's IRFAN-Canada (both are humanitarian groups that provide orphan sponsorship and medical and sustainable supplies in war-ravaged regions of the world).
So if you're stuck for what to buy and still behind on your Christmas shopping and starting to panic, or if you haven't gotten Eid gifts yet for some important people, and it's just hitting you that Eid's about to end, try something like this. It'll make you, and the person you're buying for, feel great.

No comments: