November 29, 2016

Why I’m not Giving Gifts this Holiday Season (& What I’m doing Instead).


It’s the day after Christmas and we’re sitting in a pile of socks and scarves and ugly sweaters we’ll never wear but feel too bad about throwing out.

We simmer in our options: donation, return, re-gift, and the most likely—stick on a top shelf “just in case.”

We know this story, right?

Top shelf/back drawer/under the bed items are more dangerous than we think.

They take up brain space and clarity, which is why I’ve eliminated them. Leaving an empty shelf is one of the greatest takeaways I got from my days pouring over Gretchen Rubin’s, Happiness Project and working through Fay Wolf’s New Order: A Decluttering Handbook for Creative Folks (and Everyone Else).

Organization is now a trend and I can tell you why.

I get so much joy from opening closet doors and seeing space. It’s a wonderful experience, especially in a New York City apartment, and a concept I’m even more committed to in the chaos of these post-election days.

Peace is a priority for me.

Other priorities in this messy, confusing time are: freedom, connection, self and world discovery (or whatever the opposite of consumerism is). That is why I have banned holiday gifts this year and set up a travel registry.

Also, because I’m single.

Single people have been missing all the fun of registering, but that is not the case anymore. These days people are using registries for all sorts of specials occasions—including the holidays—and sites like Celebration Wishes allow you to specify aspects of the trip you are raising money for.

So how do registering work? You basically create a profile and specify all the parts of your trip you are raising money for and what they cost. You can even add enticing photos and indicate if you need more than one of something, like three dinners on the beach or two scuba lessons. Once your finished, you make your registry live and then send the link to your family and friends with a cute note saying you are asking for travel this year. You can even post the link to your social media. You’ll be surprised how many people will want to support your personal growth and stance against buying this year.

As much as we love our belongings, they can never really become a part of us, whereas experiences make us who we are.

Shared experiences also connect us more with other humans even if those experiences happened at different times.

Hearing someone recount their recent excursion to South Africa triggers memories of our travels there and makes us feel at one with the story teller in a way we would never feel over hearing they purchased the same TV.  Similarly, travel gives us a feeling of connection to people all over the world and a sense that we are a part of something. This brings a feeling of purpose to our lives—something all human beings desire and are in great need of at this time.

I truly believe travel is a form of activism. If we could just put the gifts down this holiday season we could make a difference in so many ways.

By choosing travel over gifts we take our money out of large corporations, many of which support causes we don’t believe in. Instead we go outside ourselves and seek to understand a new culture. We bond with our fellow humans and experiment with unique ways of living and a different hierarchy of values.

Group travel is a fantastic way to go to new places with the preparation done for you and have the experience of being alone but also with others. There are so many trips out there now that everyone is likely to find the right fit.

I’m getting active this holiday season. I’ve set up my registry for my dream trip and invited others to come along. That way we can be alone together. Let’s face it, these are lonely times and lonely needs community.

I’m choosing to not add holiday stress to the things to be anxious about in 2016 and instead to do something different—that thing is registering for a new way of thinking.

That’s what clearing the closet shelf and travel have in common—they both open our minds and when the mind is open, there is unlimited potential.


Author: Lara Land

Image: Ecofolks/Instagram

Editor: Katarina Tavčar

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