When it comes to gifts, I always have the same request: none, please.
Every year around Christmas and my birthday, I try to remind my parents, in-laws, and siblings that I really, truly, absolutely, whole-heartedly do not want a gift.
If, for instance, there is something that I need that happens to be expensive, I might ask for a bit of assistance; however, a gift that I want or a gift just simply to give, I have no requests.
But it’s also not some coy way of saying, “Oh, who me? No, no, no… I don’t want anything” like some people might do—those kind, selfless, saintly people.
No. I tell them bluntly: I do not want a single thing, seriously. In fact, I request zero gifts. I reject gifts. I request that they DON’T give me a gift. I will leave their gift under their own tree—I don’t want it!
Telling this to friends or my former high school students sends heads spinning. I remember high school students asking me what I was going to give my husband of Christmas or his birthday or—HA!—Valentine’s Day.
“Nothing,” I’d reply. They thought I was joking. They couldn’t handle it. “Nothing?” they asked, almost in shock. I went on to tell them that since my husband and I got engaged, we stopped giving gifts to each other.
First of all, we share all our money. Secondly, we have everything we need. And finally, we choose an experience instead of a gift. A date. Or maybe writing a love letter, or a song, or an elaborate card.
Once, my husband left Post-It notes all over the apartment on everything, complimenting me in some way. Post-Its in the oven: “I love the way you cook.” Post-Its on the mirror: “I love the way you look.” Post-Its on the wall: “I love your honesty.” (Another post coming soon on all the non-material gifts you can give, including more about this gift.)
So, no. I really don’t want any gifts. And guess what? I don’t give gifts, either. Not silly, fun, meaningless gifts, that is. If I know someone needs something—a new coat, a bill paid off, etc.—then I’ll give that gift. (For instance, I’ve given a car as a gift; plane tickets; concert tickets.) But I don’t like to add to the clutter in the world.
Except for one gift. There’s always one item that I think is a worthy, not “necessary” gift: candles.
Candles add beauty, ambiance, even scent to your environment. They make a room cozy, or romantic, or vibrant. They are temporary, not permanent, so you don’t have to store them away for years; yet, they are not as temporary as flowers, which die after a day. They exist to be lit, to be used up, and to be recycled. They give temporary life to a room, and remind us to live in the present, not to sit around and collect dust.
And I love candles that waft lovely, seasonal scents, celebrating Mother Nature in the present. I love burning pumpkin spice candles in fall, pine and cranberry spice in winter, floral in spring, citrus in summer. But I only burn candles that are safe and devoid of chemicals.
This summer, I went to Whole Foods to purchase a summer candle, and found a cute little tin candle—vanilla and honey scented. It emitted a very potent, delicious smell, it filled up my entire home, and it was safe.
Two months ago, I found out that a non-profit organization with ties to my church is the company that makes and distributes those candles across the country! The best part is that these candles are made by teen and young moms who are employed and trained by the non-profit, which helps them find real world jobs after their training. It couldn’t have been more perfect.
So, this holiday season (Thanksgiving included), if you are wondering what to give and feel you must give a material object (you could always give to charities, give your time to your loved ones, give experiences), I believe these candles are the most meaningful and useful material gift!
Above all, I want change. A change in the way we create, a change in the way we consume, a change in the way we think. I hope that we can find ways of making everything we create and purchase useful, meaningful, and eco-friendly. I know we can at least try.
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