November 25, 2015

Traditions

When the weather gets colder and the semester becomes more hectic, I always find it challenging to relax and get into the holiday spirit. This week, I attempted to distract myself from the multitude of stressors in my life by taking a few moments to stroll through the WAM shop after class. I figured that it was never too early to start thinking about holiday shopping. Since I am a horrible procrastinator, I tend to put off holiday shopping until the last minute, and therefore equate  the experience of purchasing of holiday gifts to a walk through pure hellfire. Many of my past holiday shopping experiences consist of me running around like a reindeer with its head cut off, half-heartedly attempting to find adequate gifts before the specific date. However, this year, in an attempt to decrease stress, I am challenging myself to see holiday shopping as an exercise of mindfulness, taking time to reflect and celebrate the positive relationships I am blessed to have. After all, the gifts we choose to bestow upon others are often a reflection of ourselves: they are a tangible expression of our relationships.

As I began to glance around the WAM shop and look at all the cute, fun things, I was overwhelmed with waves of nostalgia. These sentiments first arose when I saw the playful hanging bandit fox ornaments.

 

Roost racoon bandits

Bandit Raccoon Ornaments by Roost

 

My Mom and my Grandma have a tradition where they give each of the kids in the family an ornament. Usually, these ornaments connect to something fun that we have done together during the year. Often the purchasing of these ornaments is not a “surprise”, but by the time the holidays roll around, I usually forget what I have selected. The gift of the ornaments always brings back happy memories of the past year and makes me excited for the adventures to come in the next one.

The idea behind these gifts is that all the kids will have ornaments to decorate their trees with when they move out of the house. While this has always seemed far away, with only three semesters left in college, the reality of living on my own feels closer than ever. In light of impending adulthood, I feel as if I have a responsibility to start partaking in the this tradition with my younger cousins, who this year will have the delight of receiving the WAM shop’s little fox ornaments , which hopefully will remind them of all the critters we see on our summer nature walks.

 

cousins

Gina and her cousins

 

As I continued my journey through the WAM shop, I became inspired to start more gift-giving traditions when I saw this intricate coloring book.

 

secret garden coloring book

Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden  coloring book

 

For the past few years, Annie, my best friend from home has given me some fantastic coloring books. Although it may sound silly to some, coloring has become one of our favorite pastimes: it allows for great artistic production while we sit in her basement and watch “Sex and the City” reruns!

On my way out, I spotted a cozy scarf and mitten set, which reminded me of all the toasty winter accessories my Grandma crocheted for me when I was a kid.

 

fair-trade winter gear

A selection of winter weather accessories found at the WAM Shop

 

This year, I think I’ll try to return the favor by giving my Grandma a pair of soft mittens. She definitely will know that I did not hand make them, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

My hope is that engaging in mindful gift-giving will add a new level of depth to my important relationships. My cousins, friend, and Grandma all live over 300 miles away, and I know the gifts that I give them will be a symbol of our relationship for when we are apart during the rest of the year; therefore, it is important to me that the gifts I give them are thoughtful and meaningful. My trip to the WAM shop was positive holiday shopping outing, something unique from my previous experiences. So as the gift-giving season begins, I encourage you to slow down and emphasize conscious, intentional thinking during holiday shopping- you will be pleasantly surprised, and will have the opportunity to pleasantly surprise others.