Friday, November 23, 2007


If I could, I would whittle all of my Christmas offerings from the fallen branches of the trees in my yard. Then, I could avoid the mess and mayhem of the unpalatable consumerism of this holy season.There are two problems with this: I have only one tree, a five year old Maple. She stands at an impressive 15 feet tall, but she, like any toddler, is having a hard time sharing her wares. I have no branches, nor do I have any talent for whittling or carving or really any craft that involves a knife.

And so, I am preparing myself, mentally to enter the artificially lighted, Pheromone scented, skin deep world of consumer convenience. The Mall. Generally, I enjoy the mall. I indulge in my fair share of retail therapy throughout the year. But after November 20, the thought of trucking off for an afternoon at the mall makes me cringe.

I am arming myself with a list, a time limit (with fuzzy edges), and a rosy disposition. On this day, eight years ago, many unflattering words were spewed in my general direction as I stood in front of Target at 5 o'clock in the morning, trying to see what time the store opened for business. I stood next to the cranky shopper and blinked for a moment, then decided that I was in over my head. I am not that caliber of shopper…or that caliber of crazy. So, I turned around and walked to my car, drove home, and went back to bed.

I truly believe in the *thought* behind the gift. It makes all the difference in the giver and in the way the gifted, receive. So, I am taking this inspiration with me on my merchandising expedition.

This has been the year of the bird for me. The little feathered creatures in their varied hues have taught me quite a lot about freedom and life and feathering one’s nest. Birds are a lovely, living metaphor.

An odd turn of events, really.

I don’t like birds. They make me physiologically nervous. Walking by the Parakeet cages at Pets Mart just about does me in. I think it must be the way they flit and turn their head in clicks and move mechanically and unpredictably. Whatever it is, I begin to sweat and my heart rate sky rockets. I could never keep one for a pet. But to see these creatures uncaged and in the world, the great expanses of the firmament as a back drop; or lighting effortlessly on top of a reed and then singing a song at the top of his lungs for the whole world to hear…inspiring. Freedom has more to do with the situation of one’s heart and view on the world and less to do with cages and restraints. I’ve found that my own cages are self inflicted. I am careful not to clip my own wings.
All of that to say, I have been inspired by Christine. In lieu of Starbucks gift cards or silver book marks, my daughters’ teachers will be receiving a flock of geese.

We will be donating to Heifer International in their names. I figure this is a win-win-win-win scenario. The families assisted by HI are an obvious beneficiary, I have a few less things to pick up at the mall, my daughters and I are learning yet another lesson from the birds about being selfless and generous citizens in a world community, and their teachers are released from having to find a place for their 48th “#1 Teacher" mug.

What thoughtful gifts are on your list, this year?