Giving gifts has become an inextricable part of our winter festivals. The MFML team share how they use seasonal inspiration to cultivate generosity.
There are many traditions related to giving gifts during the darkest days of winter. The Romans exchanged gifts during Saturnalia, the season of winter misrule. As Christianity became the predominant faith in Europe, gifts were linked to the visit of the Magi and often exchanged on 6 December. In the yoga tradition, the act of giving is celebrated. As we give gifts, it is possible to give them in a similar spirit. Dana is a sanskrit word which suggests cultivating generosity. We give gifts in celebration of the love and appreciation we feel for others. By tuning into our intention, the act of giving becomes an act of mindfulness.
Kat Farrants writes: “We have enough things. I like to give a donation to charity. It helps me to connect to things that are important to me and I can share this with my family and friends. My favourite charities are Danyadara and The Dog’s Trust. Danyadara is a non-profit organisation in Southern Spain which aims to reverse desertification. I am so inspired by Vidya and her story is a fantastic one to share. And what could be more special than giving someone the legacy of a forest? Or if animals are your passion, then it becomes an act of joy as well as of cultivating generosity to make sure that our four-footed companions are well cared for.”
An act of connection
Giving a gift that is special to the person receiving it. Laura Perry takes time over getting her gifts just right. “My mum likes to bring together lots of information about the people she knows and so regular address books don’t work for her and she’s not keen on online databases either. I buy her beautiful, plain notebooks and turn them into address books. I carve out the letters and hand write those and then I transfer the details over.”
The Gift of Presence
Jess exchanged vouchers with friends and family in the past. Sometimes your presence means so much more than buying something. Offering to babysit for friends with young children is often a sanity saviour. Vouchers can be made up for all sorts of things: you can go together to enjoy a joint interest or offer to share your expertise and practical help.
The Gift of Time
Spending time with someone you care about introducing them to something you love is a wonderful way to share your passions, or you can give a subscription to something you enjoy. Rakhee recalls the time she gifted a friend an MFML subscription. “I wasn’t sure if my friend would enjoy doing yoga at home or would find the time. What I did know though, was that she worked long days and often missed her favourite yoga class. It was the perfect gift for her though. She continues to subscribe long after the gift subscription has lapsed because it allows her to do what she loves on her own terms and in her own time.”
Rakhee has also given the gift of time with homemade gifts: “I like to spend time cooking and making chutney or spiced biscuits gives me some space and time during a busy period but I have found that homemade gifts are so appreciated because the recipient appreciates the time you have spent.”