by Christine Muller
What is meaningful gift giving? Most of us have grown up in a society steeped in materialism and consumerism. How can we avoid letting them contaminate the lofty Days of Há? Baha’u’llah wrote:
It behooveth the people of Bahá, throughout these days, to provide good cheer for themselves, their kindred and, beyond them, the poor and needy, …
Ayyám-i-Há is certainly a special time to remember people who are less advantaged and to share material resources with them, but providing cheer can happen in many ways: By showing love and fellowship, by cooking a meal, or by visiting an old or ailing friend or stranger.
Of course, we like to give presents to our children, but there is no need to fall into the trap of consumerism. We can give handmade presents or an experiential gift such as a ticket to a concert or a play. How about providing the opportunity for a pottery class? Perhaps children most appreciate the gift of time, of having a whole afternoon with parents playing board games or doing arts or crafts together.
Sometimes, it is very meaningful to give material things, especially when they are needed. Then we may consider local stores and items that were made in a socially responsible and environmentally sustainable way.