Trust Center for a New American Dream to come up with a new take on giving just in time for the holidays. It’s called So Kind, the Alternative Gift Registry, and I love, love, love it! Anyone can create a registry for any occasion and samples include a wedding registry and baby shower. Most of the gifts are not stuff, no surprise. It works a little like a time bank in the sense that you can make requests and/or offer gifts. The best kinds of gifts are enjoyed by both giver and receiver, right?
I’ll admit I get nostalgic for Christmases past when my children were little and contented with one or two well-chosen items. I even liked assembling those sleds and other things with many moveable parts — an evening of playing Santa’s Elf, sipping a glass of good Cabernet, after the children were tucked away. Of course, the boxes were often more interesting and conducive to creative play than the toy — wagon, doll house, etc. they held — and although I haven’t taken a poll on this, I suspect that may still be true. I’m no cultural historian, so I can’t put my finger on exactly when things got out of hand with holiday gift-giving, both in terms of the duration of the retailing season leading up to Christmas Day itself, and the outsize expectations to which we have become conditioned. Cars? Really?
All I want for Christmas this year is to disappoint a few Big Box stores, and to reward people who think out of the box about where we are going as a consumer culture. Recently, Transition founder, Rob Hopkins announced that he quit Amazon (they didn’t make it easy). His thoughtful, timely essay about what this means is just such a gift. It came one day after 60 Minutes (and Panorama in the UK) did reports on how Amazon operates and its plans for the future, e.g. 30 minute delivery of your package by drones. Maybe it’s just me, but I think the money we’re spending on these clever solutions to very trivial ‘problems’ could be better spent elsewhere. An end to hunger and homelessness? Relief work around the globe? If you are of like-mind, you might consider this a good time to make gifts in a friend’s name to Paul Farmer’s Partners in Health or Doctors Without Borders (USA)*, to name just two necessary organizations. These are also gift alternatives that will keep on giving when the last bit of tinsel has been vacuumed off the carpet.
*Both are highly rated by Charity Navigator, which could also use your support.