With people’s plans disrupted by the weather, this is a peculiar run-up to Christmas. If we’re perfectionists, or believe the buck stops with us, or that we hold the power to create collective good mood ( not so) – then bliss of bliss! – we can throw in the towel and relax: the weather’s in control.
And while we may feel exorcized about gifts not being delivered or shopping cancelled, perhaps it helps to think about what giving means. In his fascinating study The Gift , Lewis Hyde examines the idea of giving in many different contexts. He talks about how scientists gift their community with data and insights. He describes how artists and writers gift the world with their endeavours, beyond the realm of their will and ego. And he talks about the gift of contribution to public service. All these arenas, in different ways, are gift economies not simply market ones.
He illustrates how we create community by giving gifts: bestowing to others a part of ourselves in some way.
In 2010, the subject of attention has been receiving some attention. Nicholas Carr and hordes of psychologists considered the effects of online activity. Common sense alone would suggest using our brains in specific ways habitually must affect the way they work. Indeed I cannot be the only person who tags her Christmas cards into piles: by mail, by hand, special girl friends, people to impress…
So what then if our plans for Christmas have gone haywire? During the recession, we’ve seen ‘pop-up’ shops, sales and arts events happening: where entrepreneurs take temporary possession of empty premises, and use social networks to let audiences and customers know. Weather conditions may be best suited to a Pop-Up Christmas – where sometime over the next couple of weeks we get together with whoever we can and have a spontaneous Christmas celebration. Even better, it may mean no one can get any sprouts…
And as for the darned gifts, we may want to remember that one of the best gifts we can give each other is our attention – or perhaps accompanied by thinking – our consideration. We give a gift when we ask and consider the reply to: ‘And how is life on your planet at the moment?’ And then we often get something back when we connect to events on our own little Zog.
Here is terrific testimony about what can happen when schoolkids are given consideration.
Meanwhile, I hope Santa pops up for each and every one of you, bearing free gifts or otherwise. Your consideration of Mrs Motivator has been much appreciated this last quarter.
Thank-you: and to you and yours peace and goodwill.