Modern Etiquette: Why not something personal for the holidays?

Mon Nov 30, 2015 3:19am EST
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By Mary Mitchell

(Reuters) - As I write this, I look up at a foot-high stack of holiday catalogs – clothing, travel gear, hiking gear, home accessories, pet accessories, art acquisition, cosmetics, natural foods, wine... They make me sad for all those trees.

Then I look at my inbox and see more holiday sales pitches. It makes me sad for my tired eyes and fingers as I hit the delete button, over and over.

Their message is uniformly clear: Buy (our) stuff.

Don't people realize the only true gifts are time and attention?

When I think about the most important gifts I’ve received, they seldom translate into purchased objects. They always translate into generous thoughts about what makes me happy. Everybody is different, so I put it out there on social media to get more ideas of the best gifts that did not require cash.

A friend shared how much it meant when someone went out of her way to make a disabled child feel special. Another told me how much trapeze lessons can mean.

One of my students, a new mom, told me how precious it is when her own mom volunteers to come over a week every month and help out with the housework.

Another took a photo of her daughter and son-in-law’s sneaker-shod feet in the sand, each flanking a pair of empty baby shoes representing the baby that was on his way. Charming.   Continued...