I am in the last month of my shopping fast! I can hardly believe it. For the most part it seems to have gone by fast, but there have been times when it feels like it has been an eternity since I could walk into a store and just buy something I wanted.
Some of the things I am tempted by have remained consistent. My ratty living room couch calls to me fairly regularly.
I seem always on the brink of running out of hair elastics and I am going to lose my credit card one of these days thanks to a deteriorating case. Some have changed though. I’m not so concerned with outdoor furniture now that the weather is dipping below freezing. At one point it was driving me crazy that I couldn’t buy a new hamper but somehow I have adjusted to walking the twenty foot walk to the washing machine (I am a trooper, I know). I probably burn some extra calories too! I feel like my boots and socks are going to get me through to 2019 but I am kind of wishing I could diversify the collection. I have one pair of brown boots and one and a half pair(s?) of black (I am afraid one of these pairs is right on the cusp of separating sole from booty).
I am realizing non-fasting me would have picked up a lot of things that fasting me goes without just fine. Like the aforementioned hair elastics (almost out but finding strays in the couch cushions so we’re okay), a new Patriots t-shirt or two (so clearly not a need but they tempt me every time I am buying groceries at Target), so many things that those ads on Facebook try and tempt me with (it’s a little creepy how well they know me), Christmas decorations(I have way too many, but there’s always something cute that catches my eye this time of year)
and a bunch of other things that come up but I am certainly more than able to make do without.
So Christmas shopping!
Although I did give myself a gift-buying exception I have tried to use it sparingly. What I have been doing this year for birthdays and other gift giving occasions is giving non-material presents as much as possible. It has been challenging to do that but also fun and meaningful. I thought I’d like to try this for Christmas as well, but it’s going to be more difficult to do that for my large family all at the same time. So that definitely ends up being a big part of the gift – time. One thing I, and I’m sure many people, don’t have a lot of is time so it is easier for me to buy things – in store or online but my plan is to take the time to figure out how to do some gifts that don’t involve things. I am trying to think of gifts that primarily involve spending time with people, making things for them and doing things for them.
This gave me an idea for how to do presents with my immediate family. We are using the love languages from Gary Chapman’s book (the love languages are words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, gifts and quality time and the book talks about them as how we give and receive love). We thought we’d try and do gifts for one another that incorporate one or more of the love languages. It’s been fun for us to think and plan this out. We’ve all been making lists and trying to come up with how to do presents that fit with each “Language”. For example for an act of service for my daughters I am going to do their chores for them for a week. I am hoping for my act of service they give me another “spa day”! I got my nails painted and my feet rubbed for Mother’s Day and it was awesome!
Without giving too much away (some of my friends and family may actually read this) I have some great ideas and its been fun to think about ways to do things for those on my list, to be creative in making things and how I can encourage people through my gifts. It will take some time, but I think it will be worth it! In the Advent Conspiracy the authors talk about how we can make giving at Christmas being like Jesus’ gift to us – Jesus was present, his coming was personal and it was costly. They challenge us during advent to think about how we can give in this same way. Specifically, with relational gifts. “Relational giving means that we pay attention to the other person. We think about who they are and what they care about.” I love this idea and am trying to work it out in my own practice. How can I give of myself, give relationally?
So once again I find myself grateful for my fast and learning unexpected lessons as a result. Another unexpected result of this fast has been receiving the generosity of others. After I wrote my post about missing my little white t-shirts my Mom went to local thrift store and bought me a couple! Then a few months ago I lamented the loss of my Fitbit thanks to my losing my charger. A friend, who I haven’t seen in person in years, thanks Facebook for keeping us in touch, sent me an extra Apple Watch she had after upgrading her own. These acts of thoughtful generosity touched me deeply and I am so thankful to my Mom and this friend for thinking of me and sharing with me in these ways. It meant so much!