How to Add Meaning

It’s Stuff-itis season… the season when we are bombarded with messages of all the STUFF we deserve ourselves or need to gift to other people to show them we love them. We experience it every year, this idea that pervades our consciousness – in the malls, in our media, and in our culture – that with all the giving of stuff comes joy, love and connectedness. And yet, every year after all the wrappings and bows are stuffed in the trash and we’ve collected our stuff in a pile, after they join all the rest of our stuff, we don’t feel any different than we did before. We go back to the disconnected, running around we did back in September that was necessary to fuel this culture of stuff. We go back so we can do it all over again.

What does it all mean?

And there it is. The thing that we are really searching for: meaning. It turns out that The Grinch was right… Christmas doesn’t come in a box. We all know this. We just need reminders.

So how can we infuse our celebrations with meaning? Are there gifts that are more aligned with what we really want to share with our families and friends? – that we see them, that we are grateful for who they are and the moments of life we share with them and that they share with us.

So here are some ideas on ways to capture and share – not just pictures – but moments. And apropos of Thanksgiving this week, reminders of moments of connection that we can all be grateful for.

Picking one thing every day to be grateful for and noting it in some external way is powerful. Write it in a journal, or post it on your bathroom mirror… doing something every day for 30 days is a great way to create a pattern or a practice of gratitude. You could join the thousands of other people who are doing this online on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #30daysofgratitude.

Here’s an idea: collect your 30 days of gratitude and have a personalized book printed… there are any number of online services that will do this for you: Shutterfly, Paper Coterie, Blurb… and then you’ll have a tangible thing to remind you throughout the year of the things you already grateful for… and because gratitude is viral (so to speak), it’s that much easier to find more things to be grateful for.

Get your kids in on the fun too! You could do a gratitude book for your family or your kids could do books for themselves… and if you start today, you’d still be done before Christmas! If you add pictures, it’s even more powerful!

Along the same lines, you can share gratitude with your family. Picture calendars are a staple gift for the grandparents, right? How can you infuse it with the spirit of gratitude? Ask your kids to help you pick twelve things that they are grateful for and find pics to match.

If all of that organizing seems like too much, just pick one picture and make a memento box. (THIS is totally my speed). Then throughout the year when your child brings home an art project from school or leaves you a sweet note, you can put it in there. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found myself all weepy when I stumble across these little treasures. The keepsake boxes also make great gifts.

Okay… maybe Christmas can come in a box. 🙂