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No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted


Thinking about Christmas and the media and retail industries’ buoyant campaigns putting the pressure on people to buy gifts always makes me think about the true intent for the Christmas season. This point in my life and the lifecycle of my family allows me to pretty well gloss over this pressure but it is still in my face, everywhere I go.

My attempt to push the media splash aside was jolted by some large ads courtesy of Metro Vancouver. I first noticed these in the Skytrain and Canada Line stations but then after seeing them several times I actually went to the website www.metrovancouver.org  where I found other information about their efforts to “create a livable and sustainable region” but more about that some other time.

The ads that got my attention were focused on “creating memories, not garbage” suggesting things like taking an aunt to the opera, or snowboarding with a niece or teaching a family member to dance. They focused on sharing time together, sharing activities and interests, on being with one another rather than on buying those gifts, those concrete things that we complain about shopping for and that we do not know what to do with after the flurry of the gift opening has ended.

Another clear message within the ads fits with Metro Vancouver’s efforts at promoting a livable and sustainable region and focuses on reducing waste, on not producing more garbage in wrapping paper and unwanted gifts that make their way into the landfills. Ideas like wrapping gifts (if you do buy them) in newspaper or giving consumables like homemade cookies help to reduce waste and production of garbage.

I am impressed by the campaign of Metro Vancouver and their efforts to try to influence the citizens of the area to take a different approach this Christmas. Spending time together and being “green” are things I value.

Seeing the ads and contemplating on the numbers of people who saw them every day made me wonder how many would take the messages to heart. How many people would reconsider their approach to giving of actual gifts that is traditional within the Christmas season? Would individuals reexamine how they use their time and come up with ways to reduce their reliance on giving concrete things and instead give of their selves? Would some people look at the website and get some ideas for being more conscious of reducing waste at this typically waste producing and wasteful season? Knowing that at least some people would go through this reflective process and change their minds about giving differently is encouraging.

In the past I have given of my time rather than giving a gift and these ads renewed my interest in doing more. What kinds of things could I do this year that did not require buying a gift but instead involve giving of my time and being with someone?

Upon reflection I realized that sharing time together with friends and family, sharing interests and learning from others, and being with one another are actions that I value all year round. I think I will keep at it and continue to enjoy my coffee dates, my walks on the beach or in the woods, sharing time over food and drink with friends and family, taking my daughter’s dog for walks, learning a new skill from a friend and just enjoy being with people, creating memories throughout the year.

 Irene McDermott © 2011