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Dealing with Christmas gift giving - Dhamma Wheel

Dealing with Christmas gift giving

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.
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Kim OHara
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Location: North Queensland, Australia

Dealing with Christmas gift giving

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:33 am

Christmas is coming.
I know it is, because the catalogues have started arriving in my real and virtual letterboxes - catalogues from the Wilderness Society, World Vision, the Mouth and Foot Painters, the Australian Conservation Foundation and Care Australia, all suggesting that their goods would make wonderful presents.
Christmas has been problematic for me for years. I grew up in a not-overly-religious Christian family (can I call it a ‘small-c christian’ family?) but I haven’t defined myself as a Christian since I became an adult, so the season is not a religious celebration for me.
The religious side of Christmas was being drowned out by the clangour of cash register bells even before I moved away from the faith. In these days of over-consumption and environmental degradation I have another reason to dislike the season: it celebrates consumerism.
Choosing not to give any presents offends, upsets and alienates those who do believe in the tradition for one reason or another. Refusing to accept presents offends then even more. And, in itself, the giving of presents is a good thing, and the receiving can be nice too.

So what can a thoughtful person do?
1. Give according to the recipient’s values.
Yes, I know you usually try to do that but think outside the conventional range of gifts. If ‘everyone buys their Dad a gadget’, don’t buy your Dad a gadget - he has probably already got a shed-full. And remember that your Dad is not just any Dad: he has interests that are specifically his, not generically older-male-consumer.

2. Give things which have as many benefits as possible.
• Buy craft items from charity shops which handle third-world craft products (e.g. World Vision). Some of the money goes back to the maker, and some of the rest supports the charity in its other work.
• Buy Fairtrade goods () where you can.
• Make or grow something yourself, if you have the skills: a cake, a framed photo, a pot-plant in flower …
• Buy from small and local manufacturers when you can. All the money stays in your community and no-one is exploiting child labour to make the goods.
• Make a donation in the recipient’s name to a charity they support (if you give them the receipt, they can claim it as tax deduction - nice bonus).
• Buy gifts from local art galleries to support struggling artists (and believe me, nearly all artists are struggling). Give a couple of tickets to a local theatre show for the same reason.
• If you buy a book or DVD, make it one that supports your values. It doesn’t have to be seriously religious or conservationist or whatever, though - a movie like Micmacs () has all the right values and is loads of fun.
• Buy cards, calendars, diaries, t-shirts, etc, from the Wilderness Society and similar organisations: the goods may be mass produced but at least the profits are doing some good.

3. Ask, suggest or hint that others do the same.
That’s what I’m doing now, in case you hadn’t guessed.

Thanks.
* * * * *
Please comment on this and/or pass it on to people you know.
No need to acknowledge its source in any way if you do pass it on, and you can change it as you like to suit local circumstances.

:namaste:
Kim

(edited for formatting)

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bodom
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Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Dealing with Christmas gift giving

Postby bodom » Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:40 am

I love Christmas. All of it. Especially now that I have children of my own. I get to be a big kid again. :smile:

:anjali:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With mindfulness immersed in the body
well established, restrained
with regard to the six media of contact,
always centered, the monk
can know Unbinding for himself.

- Ud 3.5


https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html
http://www.ajahnchah.org/

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Ben
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Re: Dealing with Christmas gift giving

Postby Ben » Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:47 am

Hi Kim

I tend to think that Christmas can be very positive for one's practice. Its a great big opportunity to practice dana, humility, renunciation, & etc.
You might already know this but Oxfam sells a range of gift certificate-cards where the purchaser buys a cow or (whatever) for a family or village in a poverty-stricken third-world country in the name of the recipient. The recipient receiving a card with the details of the donation and what its going to be used for.
I've noticed over the last few years that they are becoming quite trendy.
Anyway - just another idea.
kind regards

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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Vepacitta
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Location: Somewhere on the slopes of Mt. Meru

Re: Dealing with Christmas gift giving

Postby Vepacitta » Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:20 am

I like making things:

Baking - cookies, brownies - christmas fruit cake (I have a great recipe - it's really a pound cake dressed up as a fruitcake so people actually love it - if any one wants it let me know and I'll post - Mum's recipe - she was a great baker)

If you knit or crochet (I do) easy things like mittens, hats, fingerless gloves - people love them.

In the 'before time' - people gave fruits stuffed with cloves.

You can make flavoured oils - go to craft shop - get bottle with stopper - clean and scald WELL. Put in olive oil. Stuff with fresh rosemary or thyme. Voila!
Or make essence - get bottle, clean, scald, pour in grain alcohol - put in rosemary, thyme, anise, rose petals (no pesticies) orange, lime or lemon rinds (no pesticides) - voila!

Make christmas tree balls: go to craft shop - they sell the balls - get coloured glass paint - get silver, gold and metallic blue, green and red fabric pain in the tiny bottles (mostly glue), get gold and silver glitter

Go home - paint balls with glass paint - dry (takes 15 minutes at most)

Decorate with fabric paint - sprinkle with glitter

Make popcorn and cranbury xmas tree swags - get gold or silver thread, pop popcorn, get cranburies, thread a needle - and line 'em up.

Make sachets - buy pretty cloth or plain cheese cloth - get dried herbs and flowers - cut cloth into squares - fill up - tie with prety ribbon - there ya go!

If you have kiddies - let them join in the fun.

Ho Ho Ho from Mt. Meru,

V.
I'm your friendly, neighbourhood Asura

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Kim OHara
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Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: Dealing with Christmas gift giving

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:25 am

Great responses so far - thanks.
Keep 'em coming!
:namaste:
Kim

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Vepacitta
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Location: Somewhere on the slopes of Mt. Meru

Re: Dealing with Christmas gift giving

Postby Vepacitta » Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:28 am

By the way Ben - love the new "Dr. Zaius" look!

V.
I'm your friendly, neighbourhood Asura

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Ben
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Location: kanamaluka

Re: Dealing with Christmas gift giving

Postby Ben » Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:48 am

Hi Vepacitta

My new avatar is a picture of "Charles" from my favourite TV advertisement at the moment.
I'll see if I can find you the video...

I can't access videos on youtube while at work, so I'm hoping this works...

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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zavk
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Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Dealing with Christmas gift giving

Postby zavk » Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:49 am

With metta,
zavk

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Ben
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Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: kanamaluka

Re: Dealing with Christmas gift giving

Postby Ben » Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:52 am

You do know the answer to that question, dear Ed!
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

alan
Posts: 2812
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2009 12:14 am
Location: Miramar beach, Fl.

Re: Dealing with Christmas gift giving

Postby alan » Fri Oct 22, 2010 2:36 am

I've let everyone know I don't "do" Christmas.

plwk
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Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:14 am

Re: Dealing with Christmas gift giving

Postby plwk » Fri Oct 22, 2010 4:53 am


Sanghamitta
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Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:21 am
Location: By the River Thames near London.

Re: Dealing with Christmas gift giving

Postby Sanghamitta » Fri Oct 22, 2010 7:42 am

Ajahn Chah really liked Christmas and would have a Christmas Tree in the shrine room. Initially some of the western Bhikkhus who were keen to distance themselves from their origins had a problem with it... :smile:
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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tiltbillings
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Re: Dealing with Christmas gift giving

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:32 am

Ajahn Chah & Ajahn Sumedho with Buddha-bush in the late 70's late December:
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Sanghamitta
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Re: Dealing with Christmas gift giving

Postby Sanghamitta » Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:39 am

With the late, wonderful, Ajahn Anando of blessed memory, former Abbott of Chithurst, standing on the far left facing camera...
Last edited by Sanghamitta on Fri Oct 22, 2010 9:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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Phra Chuntawongso
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Re: Dealing with Christmas gift giving

Postby Phra Chuntawongso » Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:55 am

I remember as a little kid,in the run up to christmas all the christmas cards got hung up all over the place.On christmas morning I would wake up and throw open my curtains and guess what?No white stuff all over the lawn.I used to be real disappointed for a nano second,then I would remember that I had been real clear about the fact that I didn't just want a bike for christmas,I wanted a dragster.Suddenly snow just didn't matter,it was time to get that dragster on the road. :woohoo:
And crawling on the planets face,some insects called the human race.
Lost in time
Lost in space
And meaning

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cooran
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Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Dealing with Christmas gift giving

Postby cooran » Fri Oct 22, 2010 9:01 am

Hello all,

For large numbers of westerners, Christmas is simply an inclusive Family Festival, religion doesn't enter into it - it is a reason for a gathering together of relatives perhaps only seen rarely, sharing a meal and delicacies, and showing love and camaraderie.

Gifts ought to be something the recipient would enjoy and appreciate.

Buddhism at Christmastime -- An Essay by George Boeree
http://www.purifymind.com/ChristmasTime.htm

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Kim OHara
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Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: Dealing with Christmas gift giving

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Oct 22, 2010 11:57 am


chownah
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Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Dealing with Christmas gift giving

Postby chownah » Fri Oct 22, 2010 2:32 pm

I used to hate Xmas....I would get totally depressed.....I don't live for material things and as a consequence I have no idea what kinds of material things people want and frankly I don't want to know as to me its IMmaterial. One year I figured out that people really did not want me to get all torn up over Xmas and would rather I be in a good mood and not worry about following any of the traditions....so I just stopped doing Xmas unless some how something arose in my mind as a good thing to do. The relief from my holiday depression was immediate.

Now I live in Thailand....guess what!!!!.....no Xmas......hahahahahahahahahahhha....

I still think that Xmas is mostly really stupid....family gatherings?...if you were closer to your family and friends all the year around then you wouldn't have to try to jamb it all into one week in the dead of winter....why not try giving Xmas presents or a party in June or August?

bah humbug

chownah

Individual
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: Dealing with Christmas gift giving

Postby Individual » Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:07 pm

I don't really give or receive gifts. I don't give gifts because I have little or no money. I don't receive gifts because I don't ask for them or feel bad about not having them. Fortunately, my family and friends are all the same way. Actually, I might get my mom and dad a card, or a box of chocolates for my mom maybe. But that's it. My dad often gives me lots of money on holidays, but I often don't spend the money at all or try to spend it on useful things, like a haircut.

A lot of people are addicted to gift-giving and gift-receiving and that's not good.
The best things in life aren't things.


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cooran
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Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Dealing with Christmas gift giving

Postby cooran » Fri Oct 22, 2010 7:47 pm

Hello all,

Christmas to me has always been a giving time, a much anticipated time for the gathering of family and friends.

It doesn’t matter if you see various members of the family and friends all through the year regularly – as I do….. Christmas is when everyone is together at the same time. So relatives/friends come from interstate, and intrastate, and all ages and relationships, are together in loving friendship. It is an exciting time.

If you are worried about money – just institute the ‘Secret Santa’ rule. Each person brings one gift that they think the person whose name they have been allotted will enjoy – even make a $ limit, (say $20) on what the gift ought to cost.

If a venue is the problem, meet in the park in a picnic shed, or on a surf beach - Christmas in Australia is in humid, mid-summer. So shade and/or shelter from rain is a need.

If food costs are a concern, everyone can ‘bring a plate’ and share.

Christmas is an exciting joyous time, it’s about bringing happiness and affirming and strengthening family/friendship bonds.

With metta,
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---


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