19 December 2009

m21's last minute gift giving guide (with goodwill to all)

the 2009 holiday season has proved more then a little vexing. yes, it's a time of celebration and gift-giving; yet this year there is a bit of somberness and restraint in the holiday air. the economy is still a shambles, we are embroiled in 2 wars overseas and here in the states, unemployment continues to rise, despite headlines stating the recession is easing. people are seriously hurting economically- so how does one fix that kind of thing with a sweater or scented candle? especially when the recipient of your gift might be facing far bigger issues...

it's not just people in shelters who are confronting hardship this year- it's your friends, neighbors and family. you probably think "i don't know anyone who's that bad off", but think again- if you know someone whose income has been affected by the economy, who has lost a job, who is overextended with credit card debt, then you very well might know someone in serious trouble, but who puts on a brave face, pretending everything is fine. after achieving success in life, admitting to losing it is pretty humiliating stuff, so lots of people just keep quiet, never letting on how bad things really are.

m21 has been acutely aware of this situation, as it seems like many of his friends and associates have had a really, really, rough year (economically speaking). m21 hasn't been immune to the rotten economy himself- the interior design trade is intimately inked to housing values, after all- but somehow we made it through, and things have already drastically improved from the beginning of 2009. maybe it's because m21 has no children to clothe, feed and pay tuition for, or elderly parents with exorbitant medical bills, so we've been relatively fortunate; for other people, their road in 2009 has been much tougher.

knowing this is happening all around us complicates gift giving: too luxurious a gift seems thoughtless and ostentatious; no gift at all seems callous; offering cash is no alternative- even if we had it to spread around, who would accept it? m21 initially thought of giving to charities like kiva.org or hiefer.org in others' names, but that almost seems the worst of all- who wants money donated to charity in their name when they might be in need of a little charity themselves? plus, it makes the gift all about you, the giver, not recipient, and that's no good.

fortunately, a series of unrelated events gave m21 an idea how to resolve his dilemma, and he'd like to share the resulting idea with y'all, just in case you might want to incorporate as well. first though, the events that brought us to our realization (you know how maison21 LOVES to go off an a tangent before getting to his point):

one event occurred during m21's very first holiday party of the season, where one of the guests shared about their pending foreclosure,and court order to vacate the week before xmas. in normal times, this would be a shocking admission, but quickly a larger group gathered around them, many admitting to similar hardships, and rapidly, tips, advice, encouragement, and email addresses were exchanged. people were actually joking about things like job loss, eviction and bankruptcy- not because these are happy things, but because through simple words exchanged with a stranger at a party, they felt less alone and more hopeful. it was both heartwarming and heartbreaking to witness, even just as an observer...

second event was a friend's post on facebook, stating this year they couldn't even afford to buy their friends and family a free glass of water. obviously, the post was meant to be funny, but many of the responses were of the "me too" variety, as people compared all the homemade gift giving ideas they couldn't afford to partake in: "bake cookies for neighbors? when i can barely afford to feed my kids?" again, it made m21 examine his holiday gifting plans- cookies are great, but only when preceded by a nutritious meal...

last, one afternoon while in a pissy, overworked and under-appreciated mood, m21 received a phone call from a client he hadn't spoke to in a while. expecting a complaint or some sort of decorating "emergency", m21 was pleasantly surprised to hear, "i'm just sitting here in my lovely living room, and wanted to let you know how much i enjoy it every single day". poof, pissy mood gone, replaced by happy mood- which not only lasted days, but could be enjoyed again and again whenever m21 recalled the conversation...

and that's when m21's gift giving dilemma was solved, and he knew what he was getting everyone on his list: the gift of a kind word. no matter how bad things are or how shitty life seems, truly heartfelt words of appreciation and support, can lift the spirits in a way no sweater or candle ever could. kind words are 100% free to give, yet make the recipient feel like a million bucks, so everyone can participate. it may seem cliché to some, or merely cheap to others, but in 2009, m21 is going to make it a point to gift the people in his life with sincere words of appreciation. oh, the younger ones might get a little something to unwrap, but this year, for m21, gift giving is going to be about friends, family, happiness, and love.

m21 has just enough hubris to think this is an idea worth sharing- imagine how nice it would be to get a card where the giver expresses the things they appreciate about you: "i appreciate our friendship because you show me unwavering support, even when you know i'm acting the fool", "your advice and encouragement are invaluable, thank you for caring", or " the laughter you provide me with everyday makes life a joy". the mushier the better, just as long as it's real. it also works for business associates and even for people you don't know that well: "thank you for your excellent service- you make doing business more like hanging out with a friend- a fantastically organized, and efficient friend, that is..." ;-) once you get started, you'll be amazed at all the people in your life who are truly fabulous, and by writing down your feelings, and presenting them as gift, you'll make the recipient feel special and valued throughout the year. if enough of us shared the qualities we love in our friends and families, imagine how happy this holiday season could be- even if material gifts are less abundant then usual.

so i hope you'll join with m21 this holiday season, and let the people in your life know exactly what you love them for, and give the gift of a kind word. it may be schmaltzy, it may be cliché- it may even be cheap to some, but really, who can object to a little kindness? of course, m21 wants to practice what he preaches, so we begin with you:


14 comments:

Julio said...

Greetings Christian,mona & richard!

A very thoughtful and inspiring post. I think your suggestion is fantastic and would be an invaluable gift. Thank you Christian for not just sharing your design tips with us but for lifting my spirits with your great sense of humor. I have many favorite design blogs, but I just enjoy your delivery. I wish you and your precious ones a very joyous,healthy and safe holiday season.

Sincerly,
Julio,Dan,Daniel & Cocco

Paul Anater said...

What a great post. Seriously Christian, I got a lift just reading it. Merry Christmas, meeting up with you via Twitter, Blogger and Facebook has been a true highlight of 2009.

Tracy said...

Awesome post (as are so many), and so true. Definitely one to share... and Thank you for your 'random musings, silly thoughts, and all too infrequent decorating-related posts.' Especially when they are decorative AND incorporate Mona & Richard!!

Tracy @ Comfort and Luxury said...

I love this! You may be chic and stylish and irreverent, m21, but inside, you're just a big ol' pile of mush, aren't you? Thank you for this... and for your fantastic blog... and for the great help you've been to me as I got my own started this year. Merry Christmas and the best of all things to you and yours. Hope you get everything you wished for!

maison21 said...

julio, all the best to you and yours as well. thanks so much for visiting, and your comments!

paul- without a doubt, being introduced to you via tweet was a highlight of my discovery of the joys of twitter!

tracy # 1- thank you! you know, i kinda wish i had enough "stick-to-it-ivness" to just devote an entire blog to m & r, but alas, my short attention span makes sticking to any one subject an impossibility...

tracy #2- thank you for all your visits- you are definitely one the regulars i feel i "know" though we've never met. maybe one day we'll even remedy *that*, since we aren't so terribly far apart in the big scheme of things.

as for the big ol' pile of mush, you have no idea... i cry at puppies, babies, a hallmark commercial, anything basically. i'm so sentimental, it's kinda mental...

Tammy@InStitches said...

Aw, what a sweet and thoughtful post. I really enjoy your blog and want to thank you for all you do. Merry Christmas to you and yours !

Margaret said...

Just as I thought: you are a beautiful person, and will touch many hearts in your journey. Hugs!

Brillante Home Decor said...

All the best to you all for a healthy and happy New Year. It is always a joy to read your blog!

Bloggers Abode said...

What a love you are. I swear I started to get a little faklemph as I read this. I've had the worst year ever. I am one of the many that has lost a job, have had the worst luck replacing that job and yes because of that, my home may soon be in the hands of a bank or worse - a horrible decorator ;) But with the bad comes the good as my son went off to college this year and is thriving in his passion to become a Veterinarian!(so proud) I have to say I am still hopeful and will stay resilient no matter the outcome. Things could turn around anytime now and if they don't? I will have a new adventure. As heartbreaking as losing my home would be, home to me is wherever I am. A place my dogs are safe and cozy and a place I share with the people I love. Even if I end up renting a double-wide in some shit hole part of town, it'll be the most charming and cute damm double wide ever! Filled with the same love, laughter and sense of style I take wherever I go. Thank you for recognizing the crappy state of things and for always having such a great sense of humor, awesome taste and a heart of gold. :)

custardbydesign said...

what a thoughtful post...

thanks for sharing and inspiring...

happy christmas...

Fauxology said...

It took such thought and heart to write this post -- *thank you* for your uplifting spirit, gregarious personality and design talent. Look forward to 2010. :)

maison21 said...

tammy- thank *you! have a happy xmas!

hugs back to you, margaret- all the best to you and yours for the holiday season!

brillante- right backatcha! i hope your 2010 is "'brilliant"!

bloggers abode- you made have had a yucky year, but it obviously didn't crush your spirit, and that's what counts! thank you for you thoughtul and honest comment! 2010 will be so much better, i just know it!

custard, thank you for visiting- happy christmas to you too!

fauxology- thank you so much- i'm blushing! i look forward to blogging through the new year with you as well! happy holidays!

tula said...

So thoughtful, so inspiring, so very very YOU! of all of the millions and billions places on the internet, maison21 always feels like home. Thank you for sharing your great taste, tips, musings and advice along with your opening up your home and sharing your family with us. Also, thank you for being so honest with your concerns and occasional frustrations with the state of the country. You help to bring us all together.

You are a gift to us! Thank you, Christian!

xo

Pigtown-Design said...

you're so amazing! all of our very best back to you and your kiddles.

xoxo
meg & connor