I like presents. And I like buying presents. But sometimes I need a break, a limit, or a fresh approach to showing friends and family my love. This year, in the aim of simplicity, my friends and I are not exchanging gifts. I made the suggestion this fall and most of my friends seemed relieved. They know I love them and I know they love me. So gifts, although fun, are not an essential requirement of friendship. It can be thrilling to find a gift tailored specifically for your friend’s tastes and interests. But if the greater goal is to show how we care – a gift will never beat out how we treat our friends and care for them the whole year through. (See my recent post that touches on caring and speaking to others during hard times.)
This year I am exchanging blessings instead of gifts. “What is that?” you say, “That sounds pretty hokey.” It means we will share a prayer and hope for each other’s lives in 2014. Friends share burdens, joys, fears – so this “gift” is just a natural extension of friendship. Why not try this yourself? Or, if you already have the gift, add on a blessing or prayer for your loved one. I will snail mailing my blessings out. There is still something wonderful about receiving old school mail, isn’t there?
Although I’ve omitted names, here are some of the blessings and prayers I am giving to friends this year:
- For a marriage that looks more and more like a friendship, like a team of best friends and that your home would be more characterized by peace.
- For a year of sobriety and choosing good things for yourself, but most of all, an ever-increasing desire for God and to know who He is.
- For a year of increased flexibility of mind and expectations, for increasing surrender of your child to God, for open hands to joyfully receive an ever-changing season of life, for more quality time with your family.
- For a mind learning how to rest and take captive thoughts of worry and fear, and for a marriage marked by mutual care and communication.
- For a more secure identity rooted in Christ, for a life covered in the perfect love that casts out shame and the fear of rejection.
- For a tongue ready to praise rather than criticize, and a mind eager to let go of irritations and hurts.
- For a healthy and strong body, eyes fixed on Jesus, and a curiosity to find out who God really is.
- For a heart more full of joy than angst, and a mind free from score keeping, or having personal hurts righted.
What blessing would you like to give and to whom?
If you want to take the idea a step further, here are 12 other non-gift ideas for showing care from one of my favorite blogs – Becoming Minimalist.