December 15, 2013
What do we think of, if we think of Christmas? Free time, festive atmosphere, the story of the Jesus child, Christmas carols, Christmas tree, Christmas tea, and, last but not least… Christmas gifts. In our time, Christmas has become an indispensable factor for our modern economy: booming sales, mailing services overburdened with online orders, overcrowded shopping malls… the so-called Christmas business. The Christmas present as a mere (and more or less annoying) obligation?
As children, we mainly were receivers, wrote our wishlists and could hardly wait for the Holy Night, when the family would gather under the Christmas tree, and we would finally get to receive and unpack our presents. But for the most of us as adults, the older we get, the longer the list of those people becomes who we feel obliged to gift something for Christmas to, and the shorter the list of those, from whom we expect any Christmas-related attention ourselves. Thus, for many of us, Christmas more and more becomes an altogether rather annoying obligation during the course of our lifes, increasingly related to additional effort, additional work, additional expenses, additional stresses.
Originally, the purpose behind Christmas gifts was to show the people we love our affection by pleasing them and making them happy. And if we today think that Christmas merely costs us nerves and money, then this might be just the point to start from anew: giving pleasure to those we love and make them happy. Are we doing this by creating a list of people who we think that they will expect a Christmas gift from us and then not stopping before until – after days of browsing online shops and strolling through shopping malls – we finally got „something” for everybody? Doubtlessly, we do fulfill our “task” as driving forces of an economy that needs constant growth in order to survive as a system this way. But whether we honor the actual spirit of Christmas this way is rather questionable.
Is it really always material things it take to make somebody happy? Or do we – in our society of abundance – not all have so many material things already that the common Christmas gift won’t give us much pleasure at all? Do we not already buy all the things we need or crave to have anyway, not matter whether it’s Christmas or not? And isn’t it really much rather that the most valuable gifts, the presents that will really make their receiver happy, cannot be bought with money anyway?
If today we really seriously think about what it is hat we usually rather do not give to those we love, then this will be material things in the rarest case, and very, very often it will be our time that we have become rather stingy with, as we tend to think that we never have enough of it. Time or each other, time with one another, time with friends, time with the family, or simply time for the frequently invoked neighbor, those who are lonely or in need of help. Time to pay attention to others, time to listen, to be there for someone. But is it really the time we are lacking, or isn’t it much rather the sense and the occasion that we do not have?
And this where tea comes into play. Isn’t the shared pot of tea, the invitation to the same, the conversation unfolding and the time shared over it one of the greatest and most multifaceted media and opportunity available to us to gift some of our time and make somebody really happy with it? It might just be rewarding to think about this: who could you invite for tea? As tea drinkers, we will brew tea anyway, and then drink it, often all alone, and without even wasting a thought on who we could invite to sharing with us, who in our immediate physical environment we could ask to join.
And that’s why I have decided to do something different during this year’s Advent and Christmas time. Since the beginning of Advent, I share a big pot of tea with my wife and kids every evening. Thanks to this new family institution, we are now gathering once a day, spend some time together, make some small talk, have some time for each other, at least a little. And I take it even further: I think about who I haven’t met for a while and who I’d like to see again, and then I invite these people to have tea with me at my home, sometimes just one person, sometimes a little group. Instead of offering people I come across in my daily course nothing but the common “hello”, “how are you” and “goodbye”, I will now sometimes say “Would you like to visit once for a pot of tea?”, and it’s amazing, people are happily accepting my offer. The result is overwhelming: there are all these wonderful evening in the family circle over a pot of tea, tea meetings with friends and acquaintances nearly every day, and I have made new friendships that otherwise would have never happened. Why not gift some of our time and attention once in a while? And if you don’t know, how to do this or where to start, then simply invite your family, relative, best friends, old and new acquaintances, but also those people, who you otherwise meetin only on superficially, for a pot of tea. It’s innocuous, well received, lots of fun, and will cost us nothing but a pot of tea, and a little of our – admittedly precious – time.
And if we then realize that the time we gift to others gives pleasure not only to them, but also makes ourselves truly happy, then what would be more obvious than carrying at least a bit of that thought into the new year, too!
Feel like having some Christmas mood right now? Our SiamTeas Christmas playlist with my favorite Christmas songs, each in my favorite version, a diverse mixture of wonderful and individually interpreted standards and rather unusual Christmas songs. Have fun listening simply per click on the following link!