I’ll be honest:  I have moments where I really love to shop.  There is Shop responsibly this holiday seasonsomething primal about finding the perfect pair of boots or just the right coffee mug for my morning ritual of caffeine with sugar and cream.  I think it’s the traces of our Hunter/Gatherer roots.  But the glut of consumerism you see this time of year makes me question where people’s minds are.

Yesterday, I went on a field trip. I spent a few hours visiting various stores to see how people merrily shopping for Christmas presents would make me feel.  I had hoped that the sight of happy shoppers would restore some faith in the season of giving, but seeing people mindlessly piling shopping baskets to overflowing did nothing to spur my feelings towards the season.

To be honest, it makes me a little ill. The rebel in me wanted to suggest store managers post specially trained employees at each register to ask “Do you really think your Great-Aunt Sally needs a popcorn cart?  And does your grandson Tommy need five stuffed animals and 12 sweaters?”

Now, before you think Santa should put me on the naughty list and ban me from all Christmas goodies, consider this: everything has energy.

Everything from the clothing that you wear, to the books on your shelf, to the coffee cup on your counter.  Before you bring a single item into your home (or as a gift into another person’s home) stop a moment to question its worth.

No, I’m not talking about the price of the item.  I’m talking about the weight of its energy in your life.  Is it an item that will enhance your life?  Will it bring you pleasure and add beauty to your world or will it sit on a shelf and gather dust?  Will you wear for seasons to come or will it sit in your closet waiting for you to give it to Goodwill? Will it make your life easier or more fulfilled?  And if it isn’t any of these things, why would you purchase it for yourself, let alone for someone that you love?

I’m a huge fan of giving gifts to those that you love.

I’m also a  big believer in adding little things to your world that bring you pleasure or make your life easier.

For example, I purchased a simple porcelain creamer and sugar bowl set to make my coffee drinking more ritualized.  Instead of making the chemistry of the perfect cup of coffee one of desperation with cartons of sugar and cream, I enjoy dipping a spoon into the sugar bowl and pouring a mixture of half-and-half mixed with milk into my favorite mug filled with a freshly brewed cup of coffee.  The purchase allowed me to ritualize my morning brew.  For some, it would be an unnecessary purchase, but for me, it added value.

I believe in choosing to shop for just the right gift; what I’m not a believer in is being a glutton of stuff.

Been there.  Done that.  Fortunately, I no longer have the T-shirt.

When my mom died in the summer of 2010, my sister and I helped our father clean out Mom’s closet.  We ended up with twelve 50-gallon trash bags full of clothing, shoes, belts and handbags.  While I was glad that Goodwill shoppers would be able to find quality items, I was saddened at the volume of stuff.  Many of the clothes still had the price tags on them.  Lots of the shoes were unworn.  Let’s not even begin to talk about the beaucoup Precious Moment statues hidden in the cupboards.  All of this stuff did not make my mom a happy woman.

I had a personal epiphany.

I realized that no amount of stuff will make you happy.

No gift – or volume of gifts – will make someone love you more.

No lack of gift to someone will make them love you less.

Up to then, I was a bit of a reckless stuff-buyer.  I overbought at Christmas and all other times of the year with cool, cute stuff.  But much of it was still stuff.  After Mom died, I really got the fact that everything in my environment had energy.  I began to shed stuff.   Six months after Mom died, I shed a metric ass-load of stuff.

And while I’m not perfect, and still succumb to the lure of a beautiful sweater, the perfect pair of slippers, or lovely tie for JB, the purchase of anything makes me question bringing its energy into my world – or foisting it upon the worlds of those I love.

A well-thought-out gift is a wonderful thing.

There is nothing wrong with buying gifts for those you love, and there is great pleasure in buying a gift for someone to enrich their life

It is a gift of self-care when you purchase things for yourself that add value.

Don’t get caught up in the hustle and bustle of retail and shop for items simply to check a name off your list.

STOP before you swipe your credit card to ask if the purchase is worth it.

And if you’ve already made purchases you regret, there is nothing wrong with standing in your power as the consumer and returning it.

This truly is a season of giving and I’m not on a mission to discourage you from embracing the season. My reminder to you this holiday shopping season is to simply do it with moderation.  I wish nothing but a holiday season full of love and cheer.    Now, what about you?  What’s on your holiday list this year?  And what is your favorite tip for giving this season?