Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The 12 Best Presents

I was going to write a post about My Forever Christmas Gifts; a typical seasonal salivate over "things I have always wanted" or would feel better and more valued as a person if I had. The list was a lusty, lingering, drooling dive into every Christmas gift guide produced by every single broadsheet, glossy magazine and/or blog/Instagram account of whatever twenty/thirty-something is stripping their unattainable life bare this week and making us all believe in the magic of the x-brand-life. The beautiful list included things like a Burberry Mac or monogrammed scarf, huge bottles of Jo Malone perfume (plus matching candle), Chanel bag, Liz Earle's entire range.. Alex Monroe jewelry. There were more considered forever items in there too... Books, flowers, art... (My one most favourite thing ever would be a personalised art piece from God's Own Junk Yard- just in case you wondered)

But I didn't write that piece because recently I have been thinking about what this blog is meant to be and how to make it better and more true to me and the place it came from when I started writing it. And really despite the title, it was about life-enrichment and happiness - mine and hopefully those reading as well as wider issues in the world that would affect those things. So whether I'm writing about a play, a bar or off on some feminist rant. I want it to be for a good thing; to make people happy, to make them think or just to make myself think.

So that decadent post.. That wouldn't be me thinking about anything except things I cut out of magazines in my early teens. It would also encourage my inclination to sheath difficult considerations and decisions with retail blow outs and getting high on NEW NEW NEW. Plus there are other blogger who do it farrr better than I would.

So instead I'm writing a different kind of gift list. This list is what I think humans really want for Christmas and for life. I've though about what I want, what I think my friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances and just general humanity would really want if they looked deep inside and weren't afraid to ask. Best of all, to give these things are mostly free or if not the cash cost is minimal. Mostly it's your commitment. Also, perhaps try to give the ones that don't come most naturally to you.. Because then it is a true gift, an effort made - there's a reason they give a prize for that at school. Let me know what you think and if there is anything you would add... I hope, sincerely that it is not too much of schmaltzy, American vibe.. But sue me if it is as it is Christmas and I love Miracle on 34th Street.

1) #LOLs

The Internet is awash with things that people have created to make each other laugh and ask anyone and one of the qualities that they value in others above all is a shared sense of humour.. So why do we not make the most of that EVERY day.

I'm not talking about the brash laddish humour performed in a group situation to win banter points, but the deep hearty laugh, the shared giggle that we can bestow on those we know the best.

One of my best friends has this gift, she always just wants to make people laugh, even when it's just the two of you and she laughs more when she sees that lift in another, plus she thinks about the individual and what they'd find amusing. 

I don't think about this all the time, I've never thought it my duty to lift the spirits of another in that way. I am more of a dry sarcastic comment type and if I have a day where I feel the bloody world is on my shoulders I wait for another to pick up the humour. 

But give the gift of a LOL or two and you'll find that you're lightened too.

2) Time

Who has enough of it, really. I don't, no one I know seems to. Every one would like more of it.

Help someone with a task so that it takes them half the time or offer to do something for them, so they are gifted some time to do something else that they really love to do.

Babysit, do their laundry, take a pile of work off their desk. Because giving your time really, sweetie, it's the most powerful currency you have. Realise that, for you and others.

3) A Conversation / Listen

Some people are good listeners in life, they have the knack to sit back and let someone else really talk without interruption or fear or worry that you've used up all your time on this round. Become one of those people, listen, think and consider what someone else has said without waiting to put your two pence in about your hella-fucking day or how you COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND BECAUSE YOU'VE BEEN THROUGH/FEEL EXACTLY THE SAME. I'm not saying don't consider it offer your opinion, but really listen trust yeah, what are they actually saying to you...

4) A Skill

We all have them, whether we know it or not, yet how often do we give them to others without waiting for a payment or a favour in return. Without giving our "gift" because we know we'll get something back.

Some people know everyone and chat well and can introduce people to others who may help them/love them/employ them.. Some people can build or restore or fix things. Some can write, some can paint, some can occupy children for hours on end. Maybe you know about gardening or you've travelled to a destination they are going to. Or you can organise or file stuff or clean, you take great photographs, can shape eyebrows, play the guitar or wrap presents like they've been done professionally.

Whatever you can do. I'm sure someone else can't and would be grateful for it.

5) Ego Boost

Browsing Pinterest the other day I came across an affordable present hack board and one of the things on it was a series of sealed letters. There were six I believe.. alll for one person and each of them had something written in the address field. Open me when you feel lonely/when you don't like yourself/when you are tired/when you hate the day. Someone had carefully constructed each letter for an individual ready to make them feel better, to appreciate themselves and praise them for their decisions when they most need it. A beautiful thing for someone you love..

Yah, you London hipsters might have trouble with this one, thinking it the most distinctly non-British of things, to put out onto the page. But it is your voice remember and you can include as much sarcasm and fucking swearing as you want as long as it does the job...

Or you don't have to do this. But just boost someone's ego in some way. You'll know the best way I'm sure if maybe they'd fucking laugh at you if you gave them a bunch of letters. Trust them with a task, ask for their help or say nice things about them to someone else. Anything that tickles their inner human spirit, maybe focus on something that they're not often told.

6) Sleep...

A duvet day, an extra couple of hours. A more peaceful way to fall asleep. A candle, a playlist, a story. Use money or don't. But anyone is grateful for extra sleep.

7) Pay Attention to What They Care About

I know we do this with bought gifts once a year but maybe it would be better to do it more regularly with though and small actions. A conversation, an extra question, a photograph, a link, time out of your schedule to learn about something/someone that to be honest you couldn't really give a shit about. Let them talk, go with them to something or organise a trip. Remember the names they told you about, the boring situation, the new thing that usually you would glaze over during in conversation. Make an effort to care.

8) Reliability or Routine

A much underestimated gift is this. People think about it mostly in terms of older people or jobs, (Must visit Granny every last Sunday of the month etc) but it is a powerful thing. The sheer stability and therefore joy we can feel when we can count on something is immeasurable. Many people don't have it, if you know someone who doesn't, maybe try to give them that.

It is easy to promise and cancel, harder to commit. Think about what you in your life know you can rely on at all times and think about how you can give that to someone who has less.

9) A Chance

Harder to define. Some sit on the edge of the maybe or the someday or the it might happen, waiting for a chance. Some have no chances and never have. If you have any power to give someone a small chance in life, whether that is a job, a room, a place on a team or a chance as a friend or lover. Life can be made on the little chances babe.. It can.

10) A Little Push.. / Encouragement

You Know those people who always seem on the edge, who don't get off their arses and fix their problems or somehow definitely can't on their own.

If you have any strength to be a bossy fucking bastard and make them or the patience to be a sensitive attendant who can gently guide them in the right direction, then do it. Because if they get anywhere or feel like they've achieved anything, you will reap the gifts right back.

11) Respect

Sometimes I think we forget to respect the people we care about. If they have been in our lives for a long time, it is easy to box them and to dismiss their little quirks and opinions. But respecting someone else for who they are, for what they say or do is such a dual pleasure and people bloom under it. If you find someone difficult to respect sometimes, take a step back, breathe and think about where they are coming from and what you can respect them for.

None of us are better than anyone else, even if we all have different gifts.

12) Consideration / Love

Perhaps the most saccharine of the list and the hardest to define. Consideration is not simply how we would want to be treated - for we are all different are we not - but how they would.

Love is unconditional, but if you love someone, it's the time of year to consider if you are doing all the things on this list for them. I love a lot of people, but I can be a selfish dick sometimes, far too concerned with constantly assessing my own happiness and life goals. So I'm making it my mission over this festive period and into 2015 to consider those I love and if I'm doing everything I can to show them how fucking grateful I am to have them in my life.

Merry Christmas Internet, hope I didn't choke you with the maudlin sentimentality of it all...

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